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Challenge/Experiment: Can You Turn off Aero in Windows 8?

  1. #1


    India
    Posts : 14
    Windows 8 Pro 32 Bit

    Challenge/Experiment: Can You Turn off Aero in Windows 8?


    Windows Aero is a theme introduced in Windows Vista that takes advantage of hardware acceleration to draw Window elements. It is known for its glass window boarders, taskbar thumbnails, full-screen screen magnification, and Fade effects when opening, closing, and minimizing Windows. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, Aero could be easily turned off either by the user or automatically by the system. Turning off Aero would disable features like taskbar thumbnails and glass. On Windows Visa and 7, Aero would be turned off under the following circumstances:
    • Switching to Windows Basic, Windows Classic, or High Contrast theme
    • Turning off Aero from the "Advanced System Settings" dialogue box
    • Starting Windows under Safe mode
    • Uninstalling graphics driver or running Windows on virtual machine without any "guest additions"
    • Running a software that turns of Aero, like the game "Half Life"
    • Ending "Desktop Window Manager" process from the taskbar

    Windows Windows 8, none of the methods above seem to work:
    • Windows Classic theme does not exist. Windows Basic theme is replaced by Aero light, and High Contrast themes still keeps Aero on.
    • It is impossible to turn off Aero from the "Advanced System Settings".
    • Starting Windows in Safe Mode keeps Aero enabled
    • Uninstalling graphics drivers does not disable aero. Aero still works without virtual machine's guest additions
    • No software, thus far, has been able to turn of Aero, including Half-Life and Roller Coaster Tycoon.
    • Attempting to end "Desktop Window Manager" process from the taskbar warns that Windows will crash and shut down.

    I have tried very hard to disable Aero (for experimentation) but no methods have prevailed. My challenge for you is to discover a way to turn of Aero on Windows 8. If you can do it, please post a screenshot!

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 21
    Windows 8 Pro x64


    If I swap to one of the high contrast themes Windows does act like it has turned off the advanced visual styles, including offering more UI customizations options that were normally available when you swapped to classic themes in Windows 7 or Windows Vista.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    India
    Posts : 14
    Windows 8 Pro 32 Bit


    I don't want to disable Aero, I want to experiment with Windows 8. It is amazing how Microsoft has managed to keep Aero on under very circumstances, such as bad graphics drivers, something that was beyond imagination on the days of Vista. Kudos to Microsoft. I wanted to see how far we could push Aero on Windows 8.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    What are you talking about? Windows 8 doesn't have Aero.

    Do you mean you want to disable the preview icons in the taskbar?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by Mystere View Post
    What are you talking about? Windows 8 doesn't have Aero.

    Do you mean you want to disable the preview icons in the taskbar?
    Yes, it does reside in my Resources Folder.
    EDIT: Snip attached.Click image for larger version
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    That's not Aero. It's just the default windows theme. These correspond with (in the Personalization dialog) Windows, Earth, and Flowers. (aero theme1, and theme2)

    It's name on disk is Aero, but it's actually called "Windows". They left the name in there for some reason. All that contains is the icon definitions, and the color definitions for the theme, along with wallpaper. That doesn't control the way the windows are rendered or other features.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Posts : 149
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64-Bit, Ubuntu 13.04 64-Bit


    To clear this up, Aero is technically the transparent glass theme used in Windows Vista and 7. A modified version was used in Windows 8 up until the Release Preview.

    Aero only can be displayed while the Desktop Window Manager (DWM) is running, as it is the compositor that allows these effects to function properly (layers windows in 3D space rather than painting them pixel by pixel). In Windows Vista and 7, DWM required GPU acceleration (supporting DirectX 9.0c and WDDM driver) to function. To paint the UI without that, the older GDI methods of painting windows by the rectangles and the pixels was needed. Disabling DWM service also disabled the Aero theme (putting it into basic). Using the basic theme or classic theme disabled DWM, as it wasn't being used to display those themes. High contrast themes used classic theme, and setting everything to 'best performance' disabled both DWM and themes (causing the classic theme to be used). GDI was the fallback, which used the CPU to paint the windows the old fashioned way. Because they aren't layered and composited, a window covering another one caused the window beneath it to require a redraw of everything when the offending window was moved away. This is why you see so many weird artifacts when you drag windows around real fast in XP or Vista/7 basic/classic theme.

    In Windows 8, DWM was upgraded so that it could render the desktop in a composited 3D space even without WDDM graphics drivers or GPU acceleration present. They achieve this by putting all this workload on the CPU instead, aka 'software rendering'. GDI to draw the desktop window elements has been removed, save for drawing the individual buttons and controls inside a window perhaps (for compatibility). In the RTM, DWM functions to make window borders transparent and blur transparencies was removed. As well, they modified the Aero theme to be extremely flat and basic looking, with no gradients or detail whatsoever. However, the technology that powered Aero (DWM) is still running, this time, as an always-on feature you cannot disable. DWM being always-on was necessary for the smooth animated experience of the 'start screen' and 'metro apps' being able to overlay the desktop without worrying about redrawing obscured windows, as well as taking advantage of GPU acceleration (when available) to keep the experience smooth. Disabling DWM or trying to compromise the theme would give you a giant black screen or an otherwise unusable Windows 8 desktop. Obviously, this means they removed the ability to disable DWM.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by Lazure View Post
    To clear this up, Aero is technically the transparent glass theme used in Windows Vista and 7. A modified version was used in Windows 8 up until the Release Preview.

    Aero only can be displayed while the Desktop Window Manager (DWM) is running, as it is the compositor that allows these effects to function properly (layers windows in 3D space rather than painting them pixel by pixel). In Windows Vista and 7, DWM required GPU acceleration (supporting DirectX 9.0c and WDDM driver) to function. To paint the UI without that, the older GDI methods of painting windows by the rectangles and the pixels was needed. Disabling DWM service also disabled the Aero theme (putting it into basic). Using the basic theme or classic theme disabled DWM, as it wasn't being used to display those themes. High contrast themes used classic theme, and setting everything to 'best performance' disabled both DWM and themes (causing the classic theme to be used). GDI was the fallback, which used the CPU to paint the windows the old fashioned way. Because they aren't layered and composited, a window covering another one caused the window beneath it to require a redraw of everything when the offending window was moved away. This is why you see so many weird artifacts when you drag windows around real fast in XP or Vista/7 basic/classic theme.

    In Windows 8, DWM was upgraded so that it could render the desktop in a composited 3D space even without WDDM graphics drivers or GPU acceleration present. They achieve this by putting all this workload on the CPU instead, aka 'software rendering'. GDI to draw the desktop window elements has been removed, save for drawing the individual buttons and controls inside a window perhaps (for compatibility). In the RTM, DWM functions to make window borders transparent and blur transparencies was removed. As well, they modified the Aero theme to be extremely flat and basic looking, with no gradients or detail whatsoever. However, the technology that powered Aero (DWM) is still running, this time, as an always-on feature you cannot disable. DWM being always-on was necessary for the smooth animated experience of the 'start screen' and 'metro apps' being able to overlay the desktop without worrying about redrawing obscured windows, as well as taking advantage of GPU acceleration (when available) to keep the experience smooth. Disabling DWM or trying to compromise the theme would give you a giant black screen or an otherwise unusable Windows 8 desktop. Obviously, this means they removed the ability to disable DWM.
    Sort of, aero is still in windows 8 but just removed the glass theme and the windows basic theme is now the default theme but looks way better. Aero glass can be ported, I did it during a late night test when rtm was released so glass can be brought back but I can't remember exactly what I did. I edited the registry, .msstyle and used the release preview theme as an example.

    to use aero lite, copy aero and rename it aero-backup, rename aerolite as aero, reboot and bam you should have glass. but it's clean glass not the foggy glass windows7 had.

    Edit:

    If you truly want glass back, you're going to need to copy the ui dlls from the system32 and 64 folder, hell just COPY those folders over and the resources folder over. This works with the retail version, did not test on PRO.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Hi Rukiri, I managed to get Aero lite but I don't like it because of missing glass effect and switched back to windows theme.
    Click image for larger version
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    India
    Posts : 14
    Windows 8 Pro 32 Bit


    Aero Lite is not pretty good but still Windows theme is nice. Missing glass effect very much..
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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