Windows Vista Beta 2 is fast approaching. If the latest "Beta 2 Preview" is any indication (and by definition, it probably is) then there are some changes coming from previous builds. Most changes are in preparation for beta being more broadly available, but there will still be changes between Beta 2 and RTM.
When you install 5381.1 and later on a machine that has a WDDM-capable graphics card, you'll notice that Glass won't be on by default, as in previous builds. It won't even turn on when you check the "Enable Transparent Windows" box in the "Personalize | Visual Appearance" dialog. I couldn't figure out how to fix it... until I did some digging. But it basically said that Windows Aero (formerly Aero Glass) will only be supported on copies of Windows Vista that have been validated by Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA). Also, the WinSAT tool (the Performance Rating Tool) must verify a specific minimum performance level for the graphics card before Glass will be available.
Based on that information, you must do the following things after installing the Beta 2 builds of Windows Vista to get the "Windows Aero" experience:
- Activate your copy of Windows Vista by right-clicking on "Computer" in the Start Menu, and selecting "Properties", and the clicking the "Activate Now" link at the bottom. You may have to scroll down to find it.
- After its activated, you'll need to click the "Performance" link on the left, and click the "Refresh My Rating" link in the dialog that follows.
- Restart your computer.
After that, "Glass" will be restored, tested and working on 5381. I've filed a bug that says the "Enable Transparent Windows" box should be disabled if the Windows Aero experience is not enabled. I've also filed another bug that says that the Windows Sidebar should honor the Windows Aero settings (it's transparent on WDDM drivers even if Aero is deactivated), so hopefully the experience won't be as confusing for end users, who probably won't have any idea what I was just talking about anyways.