Virtually every Vista demo and screenshot produced by Microsoft has shown Vista dressed up to the nines in ‘Aero Glass’ with its transparencies, glows, animations and other graphically-enhanced effects.

Of course, Glass requires that your PC clears a specific hardware hurdle of possessing a compatible graphics engine with at least 128MB of graphics memory and supporting the Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM). You’ll also want at least 1GB of system RAM.

This will describe most mid-range systems by the time Vista ships to the mainstream market in early next year, but right from the start there was plenty of interest in how Vista would look on lesser-spec’d machines.

Since before Vista was Vista (that is, back in the ‘Longhorn’ days) Microsoft’s next-gen OS has flirted with several discrete looks and names for its scalable interface. It was only in July that the designers and code-cutters of Vista’s UX (User Experience) team finalised the roster by replacing the ugly ’scrap metal’ look of the Vista Standard theme, which sits one notch below the Aero extravaganza, with a more appealing visual theme that borrows some of the static effects of Glass.
Check out all the nifty features: