How to get Aero Glass working on Windows Vista Beta 2

As many of you know Aero Glass is the name given to the beautiful high-end interface of Windows Vista. As we've released Beta 2 (build 5384.4) to MSDN (and very soon to TechNet - this delta will dissapear very soon) then many of you will be able to install it for yourself. Browse here to find out how / where to get Windows Vista Beta 2 for yourself.

There are a couple of "gochas" regarding moving up. Primarily you can't actually upgrade from a build earlier than 5382 (which wasn't released to the community) - you have to perform a clean install. Sadly the installation program doesn't inform you of this initially - it first checks to make sure you have in excess of 6.6Gb free disk space. I made the space, restarted the installation (involving a reboot and re-entering my license key) only to find that I had to start from scratch.

Once you get Windows Vista installed (it's straight forward from a clean install) then the system will by default automatically search for software drivers as required by your system's hardware devices. To run Aero Glass your system must include sufficiently powerful graphics hardware that's capable of Direct X and has support for WDDM (Windows Display Device - formely known as Longhorn Display Device). If you're system isn't capable of Aero Glass then you can still use Windows Vista perfectly well - you just loose the lovely 3D effects and live thumbnails - I've found that these have actually improved my productivity.

NOTE: It's a misnomer to think that an expensive graphics card is required for Aero Glass! I've spent £40 on a suitable graphics card which I've successfully added to a desktop machine and am running Aero Glass just fine. Of course it's a different story with laptops unless you add an external graphics card.

There's a trick you may need to take advantage of if your machine doesn't come up in Aero Glass. Click on the "Start Menu" (I'm not sure what it's called now that it's just a Windows Logo!), type "Performance Rating" in the search box and run the "Performance Rating and Tools" applet. Hit "Refresh" as shown below to re-calibrate your system.

When the machine initalises it assesses the capabilities of your system's hardware (and software drivers) to determine whether Aero Glass is appropriate. Each area of your system's graphics performance are rated resulting in a score that's displayed in the applet. BEFORE re-initalising (refreshing) my system the Graphics score was shown as 1, afterwards it was 3.5 and moments later Aero Glass worked perfectly.

The image below shows the user interface in Aero Glass.

Have Fun!

Comments (13)

  1. Anonymous says:

    One topic that comes up pretty frequently is how do you get Aero Glass enabled on Windows Vista? …

  2. Anonymous says:

    In addition to my earlier post detailing how to get Aero Glass working I’ve found that making a…

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been running Vista Beta 2 (Build 5384) for a few days now but the Aero Glass wasn’t enabled for…

  4. Anonymous says:

    So, as you must have read by now, last week we released a trinity of beta 2 products. Windows Server…

  5. yardman says:

    how do i enable glass on a toshiba Qosmio G25 – it has the Geforce Go 6600 card pentium M 2ghz 1 GB ram, should be enough for glass but no luck? Any idea’s?

  6. Daniel says:

    I thought there was a trick to enable it (bypass Windows decision) even if it could be slow or something…

    The topic is wrong and should be modified.

  7. Edgar S. says:

    Has anyone been able to enable the glass effect w/ a graphics rating of 2.5 and overall rating of 2?

  8. Jonathan says:

    Where can I get an ‘external’ graphics card for my laptop from? I politely suggest there is no such thing!

  9. Jon says:

    I’m looking for an ‘external graphics card’ for my laptop! Any ideas where I can get one from?

  10. Alistair says:

    I am having similar problems, but i think its more to do with the fact that Vista doesnt seem to like the new spangly drivers from ATI for my 9800 pro.

  11. Steve Lamb says:

    Jonathan> I know you can buy external sound cards and I think I’ve seen an external graphics card though I can’t be sure.

  12. Mark Wilson says:


    I’m interested to knwo what graphics card you got as I’ll upgrade mine if it’s only £40 but I haven’t found anything suitable at that price yet!

    Cheers, Mark

Skip to main content