The Windows Personalization Gallery is new and improved!

With the launch of Windows 8 last week, we published the new version of the Windows site at the same time. If you haven’t taken a look at our beautiful new site yet, I hope you will.

My personal favorite aspect of the new site is the new-and-improved Personalization Gallery. How has it been improved, you ask? In several ways! First, you’ll see larger thumbnail images and more info about each desktop theme on the main themes page.

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Now you can easily see how many images each theme contains, as well as a good-size preview image and the window color, without going to the theme’s details page. Navigating to the details page is also easier to do now, since you can just click on (or tap) the image.

I love the new theme details pages! I’m so happy that you can now preview the images in a theme before you download it, which is something you’ve been asking for, for a long time.

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To see a larger version of each thumbnail image, click it (or tap it). The < > symbols bring up a new row of thumbnails to look at. An even easier way to page through the entire “slide show” of images is to just keep clicking (or tapping) the large preview image on the right – that will transition you to the next image in the set, so you can see them all.

Clicking “Download theme” downloads the entire theme, which includes all the images.

Speaking of previewing images in a theme, I want to take a moment to explain something that a few people have asked about. You may notice that the number of images in the Aqua Dynamic theme is listed as “31+” on the main themes page, and as “18” on the theme details page. The number 18 on the theme details page is the number of images available to preview. The theme actually contains more than 31 images.

Because we continue to add new images to most of our RSS-fed dynamic themes every week, these themes are huge, and getting huger all the time. For example the Bing Dynamic theme contains more than 150 photos, and some of the other RSS-fed themes have even more. 18 preview images is enough to provide the flavor of the theme and let you decide whether or not you want to download it. So for the RSS themes, we will only show 18 representative images on the details page, even though there are actually many more than that in each theme. But for non-RSS themes, you can preview all the images.

Another improvement to the theme details pages is that some images now have captions. In the past, the only way for you to get more info about the images in the theme was to follow the steps I described in this blog post. But now whenever we have access to interesting or useful information about an image, such as the location where it was taken, we’ll include it as a caption on the details page.

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In addition to new features, we also have lots of new wallpapers and themes on the gallery, including six new panoramic themes for Windows 8 and Windows RT. These themes are specially designed to extend across dual monitors, but you can use them with a single display, too (you just won’t be able to see the entire width of the image).

I mentioned this in a previous blog post, but it bears repeating: All our themes – including the ones originally created for Windows 7 – work on Windows 8 and Windows RT. But the reverse is not true. Themes created in the Windows 8 format (such as the panoramic themes) do not work on Windows 7.

I hope the new features we’ve added to the Personalization Gallery, and the new themes and wallpapers we’ve published, will help to add some brightness and color to your November. Be sure to check back in December, too, when we’ll have lots more new personalization goodies to help you beautify your Windows desktop.