Microsoft Longhorn

DWM & Graphics

Aero done right

A lot of people have been struggling to get Aero to work in build 4074. In this post I want to show you how Aero can be enabled along with a little history. If you came here looking for information about Aurora, please see my post about Aurora & Aero. A theme with two faces During the development of Longhorn the exact look of the Aero theme was kept a good secret.

Aurora & Aero

Aurora is one of the eye-candy features which is best represented in Milestone 7 builds. Using the powerful Avalon presentation engine, Longhorn was able to draw fancy animations, like Aurora, without any significant performance hit on the processor. Aurora in the preview panel was first shown at the PDC 2003 conference when a private build was showcased. At first sight many people thought the demo was just a flash mock-up, but Hillel Cooperman was fast to debunk this.

Desktop Compositing

In this tutorial you will find everything you need to enable desktop compositing on the Longhorn builds that support it. I’d like to note that I am writing this tutorial with VMware workstation in mind. As such, all drivers provided on this page are meant for use with VMware. At the bottom of this page you’ll find a list of builds that have working desktop compositing. For each of these build I will list the combination of VMware version and display driver that worked for me.

Exposing a spy

Most of you will probably be aware of some hidden view options available throughout the Longhorn builds. These views are commonly known as “Carousel” and “Panorama”. The latter is often also called “Phodeo”. Enabling the 3D view-mode as well as one of these hidden views causes a DirectX rendered view to appear instead of the familiar plain 2D view. The DirectX powered view features all sorts of animation to spice up the browsing experience.

Hillel demoes Longhorn (Extended cut)

Here it is. 6 minutes of Hillel Cooperman introducing Longhorn to the public during Bill Gates’ keynote on 27 October 2003 at PDC ‘03 in Los Angeles. Originally this demo was cut from the footage from Bill Gates’ keynote that was published online at Channel9. I found bits and bops of the footage scattered over the web and decided to put them together in one large video. I complemented some original footage with videos by Paul Thurrott.

Phodeo in detail

Multiple patents were filed by Microsoft for this sensational effect. One of the patents shows some detailed screens of what Phodeo is supposed to look like. These images closely resemble some concepts shown by Hillel Cooperman at PDC ‘03, but are, in fact, not the same. Where the user in Hillel’s demo was Jim, the user in this concept is called Steven. Also note that in the image below the window frame is visible, clearly identifying this as a mock-up created in Macromedia Director with the title “timeline demo”.

Theme Format and Aero

Thanks to Lucas Brooks for letting me use his post from BetaArchive. I did a bit of research on Longhorn’s theme format, and figured out some things perhaps never fully documented before. I wrote a .msstyles decompiler, that can turn compiled packthem v4 themes into .INIs and resources (like Windows XP themes). Theme Format Overview The theme format (.msstyles) changed fundamentally compared to Windows XP, even with the earliest leaked build of Microsoft Longhorn.