My own experience, having a laptop that will not run Aero, is that with Windows 7, you either have Aero or you don't.
If you don't have it, while hacking around MAY work, most likely, it will not.
If you want to enhance your desktop and can't run Aero, there are a number of Windows Basic themes you can install.
Also, there is a commercial product, known as WindowBlinds, that will also enhance your desktop experience. I used an older version of this on my laptop and it didn't work well. But, I'm running the newest version and it works fine.