Chris123NT's Blog

Where I rant and rave about all things tech

How to get Aero Glass back in Windows 8.1

Aero Glass, one of the more obvious features of Windows Vista and Windows 7, those lovely transparent and blurred Window borders that really gave Windows an impressive look.  Glass was even with us during the beta process of Windows 8, even the last public preview build had glass (the most polished rendition of it yet as well).  Then, seemingly as a last minute decision, Microsoft ripped the Aero Glass code out of DWM and left us with this flat, opaque and ugly UI that made it quite obvious that the UX people at Microsoft just didn’t care about the desktop UI.  Some of us have joked that the opaque UI was symbolic of Sinofsky’s iron curtain of secrecy over Windows.  Unfortunately Microsoft have not made any statements or given any indications that they may add aero glass back to Windows 8, and thus we are left with a UI that looks like a step backwards in interface design.  Or are we?

Enter a man who calls himself “bigmuscle” and posts on the forums.  He had this crazy idea that it would be possible to inject the aero glass code back into the DWM subsystem of Windows and thus give us our beloved glass effects.  And the best part?  By injecting the code directly into DWM it would be fully hardware accelerated and would have ZERO negative impact on performance.  Needless to say the project is an amazing success, and the goals have been accomplished.

The purpose of this post is to walk you through the installation of the Aero Glass app, as well as some post-install tweaks that really let the potential of glass shine in ways that none of of thought possible when Windows 8 was released.

What you will need:

Installing Glass8:

In this section I am going to assume you are on the newly released Windows 8.1 Update 1, since as of this writing that is the most complex install method, so without further ado, here we go:

  • Start by downloading Glass8 as well as the DWM Symbols pack (links above)
  • Figure out where you will be installing it (Default Path would be C:\AeroGlass)
  • Create the folder where it will be installed and create a “symbols” folder within
  • Copy the correct symbols for your setup from the symbols folder in the symbols pack to the new folder you just created.  Refer to the MDL thread link for instructions if you are not clear on this step.  NOTE this step is very important, without this glass will not function correctly in Update 1.
  • Once the symbols are in place install Glass8 to the path you decided on, and do so with all of the defaults.  Once the install is complete you should immediately notice that your window borders are now translucent and blurred.

Obviously at this point we’re not really done, if you installed with the provided atlas, it looks pretty good, and if you installed without no doubt you’re thinking that it looks like total crap, well that’s where the tweaks that I talked about before will come in, so keep reading.

Also one more note for all of you.  Glass 8 is free to use, but it has a desktop watermark and a popup that shows up once per execution of the process.  If you would like to be without these items then consider donating to bigmuscle to help with the development of this app, if you donate 3 Euros or more you will be able to generate donation keys which rid you of the watermarks and automate the symbol download/install process so that future Windows updates will not break your glass.

Glow Tweaks

One of the first things you may notice after installing Glass8 is that not all of your window titles have the aero glow effect around them, specifically ribbon-enabled Windows.  This is due to the aero.msstyle having the effects removed.  In this part I will show you how to re-add the glow, and how to tell Glass8 to render the glow based on the values provided in the theme.

First, we need to address the msstyle:

  • Make a copy of aero.msstyles and put it on your desktop
  • Download the MsStyler tool from the link at the beginning of this post
  • Open the copy of aero.msstyles with the tool and make the following adjustments:

Class ID: 4
Part ID: 0
State ID: 0
Class: globals
Property Value: 350

Class ID: 4
Part ID: 0
State ID: 0
Class: globals
Property Value: 12

Class ID: 209
Part ID: 0
State ID: 0
Class: CompositedWindow::Window
Property Value: 350

Class ID: 209
Part ID: 0
State ID: 0
Class: CompositedWindow::Window
Property Value: 12

  • After the adjustments, hit ctrl + S and save the file as aeroglow.msstyles or something
  • Now make sure you have uxstyle installed
  • Go into C:\Windows\Resources\Themes and take ownership of the aero folder and all of it’s child objects
  • Inside the aero folder, DELETE The VSCache folder
  • Rename the default aero theme to something else, like aero1
  • Copy in your modified msstyle and name it back to aero
  • Go into regedit and navigate to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM
  • Create a DWORD called TextGlowMode and set it to 3
  • Reboot and now you will have the glow effect on all of your Window titles.

Custom Theme Atlas Images

One of the cool features of glass8 is that you can skin the glass without downloading a whole new custom theme every time you want a new look.  This is accomplished through the use of what is being called an atlas.  An atlas is a png file which follows the format of the aero stream in your theme, this is mostly useful for people who are sticking with the default Windows 8.1 Theme and have only applied minor tweaks such as the one above.

In this section I will recommend an atlas file and a reflection.png (aero “ribbons” if you will) that will give you a very Windows 8 Release Preview style glass look.

  • Download the PNG files HERE
  • Extract the contents of the rar to where you installed Glass8
  • Go into Regedit and navigate to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM
  • Create a STRING value called “CustomThemeAtlas” and set the value to “C:\AeroGlass\win8rpfixed.png” or wherever you installed to (no quotes)
  • Create a STRING value called “CustomThemeReflection” and set the value to “C:\AeroGlass\reflection.png”
  • Create a DWORD value called “ColorizationGlassReflectionIntensity” and set the value to anything between 0 and 100.  I find 40 to look nice and create a subtle effect.

If you are curious about any other registry tweaks to adjust the look of glass via the registry, refer to the guide section of the glass8 website.

But Wait!  Where’s my blurred Taskbar?

If you want to get the blurred taskbar, you will need an app such as StartIsBack by Tihiy which will allow you to “disable” the transparency on the taskbar.  Once you toggle that setting, the taskbar will blur instead of turning opaque.

So you followed the guide, and if you did everything correctly, your desktop should look something like this:




Enjoy your glass UI!  If you have any questions please feel free to comment below and I will answer whatever I can.

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  • Someone

    Chris what do you think about this bundy ranch situation in Nevada and the militia? The people there seem reserved to die but wish to bring some of the members of the federal police down into the warm embrace of the earth with them. New York says to register rifles what do you think of that a swell?

  • Sparky Kestrel

    Sparky Kestrel

  • Sparky Kestrel

    First of all, please ignore the other post where I just posted my user name, just trying to work out how posting here works.

    And now that I’ve made myself look like a total twat who doesn’t know what they’re doing, you’re probably not going to believe a word below, but please believe me, I *am* and *did* follow all the steps on this page to the letter.

    Now to my main post…

    I have followed your webpage here on how to get AeroGlass back into Windows 8.1U1 (I’m using x64), and have got the glow back on all windows.

    I also followed your final part on the Custom Theme Atlas with reflection but upon rebooting have found no (at least obvious) change.

    (I didn’t install StartIsBack though, as I left the Windows 7 style start menu when I came to Windows 8, and haven’t wanted it back since).

    Is the change supposed to be on ribbons (such as the ribbon in File Explorer)? Because I am seeing no change whatsoever there.

    This is just me thinking out loud, but made the DWORD value “ColorizationGlassReflectionIntensity” is affected by my region setting of Australia? But surely windows own registry settings aren’t spelling affected by region settings?

    Everything else looks *exactly* the same as your PNG on the page, so is there something I’m missing?

  • Someone

    St Anthony’s expells 2 young men who were in their last year for displaying the battle flag of the confederacy. Also they expell 2 girls for a different incident concerning blackface which occurred off school property and was posted on the net with some racially topical comments.

    On the news cast some white ugly bitch with a fucked up nose and a face that is as long as the face of a racing horse says that it hasn’t gone far enough and the students should be persecuted via the legal system.

    What say you?

    • Channel 2012

      What does that have to do with the article?

  • Dave Johnson

    Interesting, I didn’t do that glow tweaks bit, but I have glow!

  • axl

    So how am i supposed to find those classes and edit them, in aero.msstye, if there are 5000 classes and no way to sort them?

  • LeAno

    To bad that is down this moment…
    Also I checked the site up:

    • BlockedByFP is the new site

  • LeAno

    Nvm my previous comment.
    The site is up again.

  • TheChairman

    Did everything, but I’m getting artifacts in the Title/Caption area of inactive windows when dragging an active window over them. Artifacts disappear after mousing-over Min/Max/Close buttons (i.e. when inactive window grabs focus and frame is redrawn).

    Oddly, problem is -intermittent- during any given login session. Comes and goes.

    Windows 8.1 update 1, bare metal installation, dual Xeon 2.66, 24GB Ram, FX 4800.

April 2014
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