"Aero Lite" theme was introduced in Windows 8 testing builds to replace "Windows Basic" theme present in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Aero Lite theme doesn't provide Aero glass and other eye candy effects such as reflection, blur, etc. Its a clean and simple theme created for low-end computers which don't have compatible hardware to support the main Aero theme of Windows 8.
If a computer doesn't have compatible hardware, Aero Lite theme is applied by default in Windows 8. Aero Lite theme was available in Desktop Properties in testing builds but surprisingly Microsoft removed it from Windows 8 RTM i.e. final version.
In Windows 8 RTM, if your computer contains compatible hardware and graphics card, the main Aero theme is applied automatically and Aero Lite theme is not available in Desktop Personalization window. So basically you can't apply and use Aero Lite theme in Windows 8 RTM if your computer system fulfills system requirements of Windows 8.
Now what to do if someone wants to apply Aero Lite theme in Windows 8? How to bring back the Aero Lite theme in Windows 8 RTM? There may be many reasons to use Aero Lite theme such as:
- Windows 8 Taskbar features transparency and there is no option given to disable it. So people can use Aero Lite theme to remove transparency in Taskbar.
- I know many people who use Windows Vista or Windows 7 and always use Windows Basic theme instead of Aero glass theme to save battery time.
- Its always better to have more choices.
Actually Aero Lite theme is still there in Windows 8 RTM but Microsoft removed its .theme file, that's why its not visible in Desktop Personalization window.
Each theme which is shown in Desktop Personalization window, contains a .theme file which is responsible to show its name in Desktop Personalization. If you remove .theme file of a theme, it'll not show in Desktop Personalization window. The .theme file points to the main .msstyles file which contains all the required resources to change UI elements when you apply a theme. Check out following link to read more about themes and msstyles:
Aero Lite theme's .msstyles file is still present in Windows 8 RTM so we just need to create a .theme file for it pointing to Aerolite.msstyles file and we'll be able to apply it from Desktop Personalization window.
So if you also want to enable Aero Lite theme in Windows 8 RTM, check out following simple steps:
1. Press Win+R keys together to launch RUN dialog box. Now type resources and press Enter. It'll open "Resources" folder in Windows Explorer.
Alternatively, you can open it using Windows Explorer. Just browse through C:\Windows\Resources.
2. Once you open "Resources" folder, double-click on "Themes" folder present in it. "Themes" folder contains all .theme files such as aero.theme, theme1.theme and theme2.theme.
Just check out "aero" folder present in Themes folder and you'll see aerolite.msstyles file which proves that Aero Lite theme is still there.
3. Now we need to create a .theme file for Aero Lite theme. Copy aero.theme file present in Themes folder and paste it on Desktop.
4. Rename the new file to aerolite.theme and open it in Notepad. You can right-click on the file and select "Open with" option and then select Notepad from the list.
Or you can open Notepad and then drag-n-drop the .theme file in Notepad window.
5. When you open aerolite.theme file in Notepad, you just need to change 2 things in the file:
5.a. First change the "DisplayName" value given in 5th line. This parameter contains the theme name which is shown in Desktop Personalization window as mentioned here. Replace the string given after the equal (=) sign to any desired name such as Aero Lite as shown in following image:
5.b. Now we'll need to point this new .theme file to aerolite.msstyles file. Currently its pointing to aero.msstyles file. Scroll down and go to "[VisualStyles]" section. Now replace aero.msstyles with aerolite.msstyles in line 51 as shown in following image:
6. That's it. Save the file and move it to main "Themes" folder which contains other .theme files.
7. Now open Desktop Personalization window and you'll get the hidden Aero Lite theme back as shown in following screenshot:
Click on "Aero Lite" theme icon and get ready to enjoy the theme which was hidden by Microsoft.
NOTE: You can move the new Aerolite.theme file to "C:\Windows\Resources\Ease of Access Themes" folder and it'll show in "High Contrast Themes" section of Desktop Personalization window.
Also check out following topics to read more about hidden and interesting stuff present in Windows 8:
PS: If you face any problem in enabling Aero Lite theme, check out following video showing the whole method live in action: