What is Windows Aero?

Windows Aero is the premium visual experience of Windows Vista. It features a translucent glass design with subtle window animations and new window colors.

Picture of the desktop
Windows Aero features glass-like windows for an open look

Aero’s distinctive visual style combines the appearance of lightweight, translucent windows with powerful graphic advances. With Aero, you can enjoy visually appealing effects and appearance and also benefit from better access to your programs.

Glass effects

Picture of a translucent window
Translucent glass windows create depth on the desktop

One of Aero’s more visually obvious features is glass window borders, which let you focus on the contents of your open windows. Window behavior has also been redesigned, with subtle animations accompanying the minimizing, maximizing, and repositioning of windows to appear more smooth and effortless.

Picture of window frame colors
Tint your windows using the provided colors, or mix your own custom color

You can even fine-tune the color and appearance of windows, the Start menu, and the taskbar by tinting your translucent windows. Select one of the provided colors, or create your own custom color using the color mixer.

Switching between programs

Picture of Flip 3D effect
Windows Flip 3D

Part of the Windows Aero experience is Windows Flip 3D, which is a way to arrange your open windows in a three-dimensional stack that you can quickly flip through without having to click the taskbar.

Picture of a thumbnail preview on the taskbar
Pointing to a window's taskbar button displays a preview of the window

Aero also includes taskbar previews for your open windows. When you point to a taskbar button, you'll see a thumbnail-sized preview of the window, whether the content of the window is a document, a photo, or even a running video.

Picture of the ALT+TAB program switcher
Switching windows with ALT+TAB

Even the method of pressing ALT+TAB for switching windows has been giving an update. Instead of simple icons, you can see live previews of the windows for each open program.

How do I get Windows Aero?

The following editions of Windows Vista include Aero:

  • Windows Vista Business

  • Windows Vista Enterprise

  • Windows Vista Home Premium

  • Windows Vista Ultimate

Aero is not included in Windows Vista Home Basic. You can find out which edition of Windows Vista you have on your computer by opening Welcome Center.

Open Welcome Center by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Welcome Center.

The edition of Windows Vista you're running is displayed with your computer details near the top of the window.

For more information about the hardware and settings you need to run Windows Aero, see Troubleshoot problems with Windows Aero.