Home Basic lacks many of the niceties of it’s more expensive brothers like taskbar preview, the Aero interface, flip 3d, Shadow copy explore and more. Also missing are the ‘ultimate extras’ like Dreamscene. Fear not! You, too, can have all of that. Previously, I wrote a post about making XP look like Vista. Some of that post also applies to Home Basic. One application I mentioned was Visual Task Tips. The latest version works just fine in Home Basic. Grab it here, it is free. Next, let’s dress up Home Basic a bit. There are a few ways to do this. One way is to patch the theme subsystem (instructions here) so you can use third party themes OR, and this is better, you could head over to Stardock and grab the Windowblinds application and download of several Vista Aero theme. While at Stardock, grab the WindowFX utility to add some transparency to Home Basic as well. Next, let’s take care of Flip 3D. Get this utility and run it. It gives you the flip 3d feature that Home Premium and Ultimate have.
There are a couple of free media center applications available. None are as nice as Vista Home Premium or Ultimate’s Media Center, but they are functional and free. First, there’s Yahoo! Go TV, which used to be a product called Meedio. You can get it here. The product appears to be stalled at the moment and still says ‘beta’. It does work and has the same basic functionality as Vista Media Center. It supports a few tv tuner cards, but is mostly Yahoo! centric. An alternative is GB-PVR. Yahoo! Go TV is easy to set up, but is limited and does not seem to be supported. GB-PVR is bit more geeky and more difficult to setup, but is much more extensible and can be skinned. Of course, if Media Player/iTunes/Zune Marketplace work for you and you do not need/want tv, then just skip this altogether. You can revisit later, if you wish.
In part two, I’ll go over a dreamscene clone and some other things that will make Home Basic feel like it’s more expensive brothers.
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