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Redditor brings ugly Windows 2000 aesthetics back to Windows 11 — and I love it

What you need to know

  • Reddit user ExoGeniVI shared screenshots of their Windows 11 desktop on the r/Windows subreddit, mimicking the default Windows 2000 theme.
  • It was made possible with StarDock WindowBlinds, an app that customizes Windows 10 or 11 desktops alongside a user-made theme.
  • The custom Windows 2000 theme was initially shared on WinClassic, a forum dedicated to bygone editions of Windows, created by user prozad94 in 2021.

As excited as I am for the future of Windows 12 (opens in new tab) and the possibilities for Microsoft to advance its world-leading operating system, I’m hopelessly hooked on nostalgia thanks to the heavy use of older versions during my childhood. User ExoGeniVI shared screenshots on Reddit (opens in new tab) of their Windows 11 desktop overhauled to resemble the solid-gray theming of Windows 2000, alongside installations of Internet Explorer 5.5 and Office 2000.

It made me feel warm and fuzzy but it wasn’t a complete surprise. After all, I already use the same app responsible for theming Windows 10 or 11, Stardock WindowBlinds (opens in new tab). The real icing on the cake included period-accurate software and games, with classic gems like Fallout and RealPlayer Basic gracing the desktop for a strong hit of nostalgia. Combining WindowBlinds with a theme shared on WinClassic (opens in new tab) by user prozad94 makes for a gross yet heartwarming trip down memory lane, and I’m here for it.

Despite the recent shutdown of Internet Explorer for modern platforms, the ancient 5.5 version miraculously still works, depending on your definition of the word. ExoGeniVI explained in the comments that although it can load many basic websites, it will never last as a daily driver. Still, it’s a testament to Microsoft’s efforts in backward compatibility, even if it mainly acts as a sort of museum antique than an actual tool.

Seeing Clippy spring back to life, albeit with busted transparency effects replaced by a garish pink square, was a delight, especially given my recent desire for the classic digital assistant to make a comeback (opens in new tab). It’s worth pointing out that although Stardock WindowBlinds offers simplistic variations on this retro theme, the sheer effort made by ExoGeniVI to customize Windows 11 to this insane degree was by no means painless, forcing them to run a complete system restore twice after some unfortunate missteps.

Theming my Windows 11 desktop to resemble Windows XP, much to the dismay of my colleagues. (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

Windows 10 and 11 aren’t explicitly designed to be personalized to this degree, hence the need for third-party software to wrangle your desktop into a desired aesthetic. However, I use a basic Windows XP-inspired theme on a secondary Windows 11 machine to remind me of happy memories made with the longest-serving desktop computer from my teenage years.

You’ll need more than Stardock WindowBlinds to complete the authentic retro look, but it’s currently the most straightforward method for instant theming satisfaction. I might be the odd one out on the Windows Central team (opens in new tab), but I still adore the plain, boring, and flat-out colorless stylings of Microsoft’s past. It’s great to see others sharing the same love.

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