xpStyle 2.7.0.0 is a collection of native Delphi VCL components (so no ActiveX controls or external DLLs required) that enable you to provide the look and feel of Windows XP even when your application is running under earlier Windows platforms. RhoSoft claims that these controls will work with Windows 95 and 98, Windows ME, NT, Windows 2000 and, of course, XP itself - about which more later.

The accompanying screenshot may look at first glance like an ordinary XP application, complete with the familiar XP Luna blue frame. However, it's actually a Delphi application, built with xpStyle running under the Windows classic Eggplant colour scheme.

The emulation of the window frame itself is reasonably good, although you'll notice that a little eggplant green has spoilt the effect by creeping into the up/down controls and combo boxes. The most important member of the xpStyle toolkit, TxpWindow, is a control which you simply drop onto a form, set its Active property to True, and, hey presto, you have instant Aqua on non-XP systems.

It's perhaps a little hard to understand why one would want to make your program look like an XP app when running on, say, Windows 95. While there are advantages to having a sleeker interface than the next guy, the XP appearance is now so familiar to most people that it would just look weird running on Windows 95.

That said, there are other benefits that TxpWindow brings you. With it active, you can programmatically adjust the height of the caption bar within certain defined limits, select different styles (blue, olive, silver, and so on), control whether the window has rounded top corners - a real must-have feature - or, more usefully, add extra buttons alongside the standard complement.

Unfortunately, none of these capabilities are available unless TxWindow is active, whereas you'd typically want to turn it off under XP itself, preferring the look and feel of the real thing. All in all, a bit of a mixed bag, but the price is reasonable for what you get. Dave Jewell