Windows themes and wallpapers: both old friends and new

The holidays can be a time to reconnect with old friends. It’s also the time of year when I bring out dusty cardboard boxes of fragile glass ornaments nested in tissue paper, as well as awkwardly childish creations made from salt-dough and glitter. Some of the ornaments are “new,” meaning I bought them myself since leaving home, but many of them are very old. I remember helping my elder sister hang them on the tree when I was a little girl. I am just as fond of the old ornaments as I am of the newer ones.

Likewise, I still have a soft spot for the holiday themes we’ve released in previous years. I think they’re every bit as pretty now as they were when we first published them, and I hope you’ll enjoy them, too. Here are just a few:

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Maybe you’d also like to customize your Windows 8 or 8.1 lock screen (or your Windows Phone) with a festive seasonal wallpaper from the Personalization Gallery? It’s easy, as I explained in this blog post.

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But if you’d rather decorate your desktop with something new, we also have plenty of great new releases on the Personalization Gallery this week. One that I’m especially excited about is the Giving Heroes theme, which showcases many artists’ visions of the true heroism to be found in generosity and helping others. The Giving Heroes Fund is part of the Microsoft YouthSpark program, which provides education and other opportunities for young people around the world.

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To celebrate a different kind of valor, relive the Xbox One Racing Team’s spectacular top-10 finish in the Bathurst 1000, Australia’s most iconic endurance race. This new theme features the team’s stunning Holden VF Commodore, which recorded the fastest speed of the day at 295 kilometers per hour – a first for any wildcard entry.

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The rest of our new themes take a much slower pace… like the serenely floating feather ducks in artist/photographer Chris Maynard’s follow-up to his popular Shadowboxes theme. You can bring a whole new flock of his inventive and poetic creations to your screen with Shadowboxes 2.

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Photographer Slavco Stojanoski captures the tranquility of sunset light rippling across the surface of Lake Ohrid, the deepest lake of the Balkans. It’s located between Macedonia and Albania, but you can enjoy some of its beauty without booking a flight, in our new Lake Ohrid Sunsets theme.

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Traveling northward, you can take a virtual nature walk with photographer Thomas Freiberg, on his treks to find and document the diverse species of butterfly that grace German woods and meadows.

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The last theme in today’s roundup also takes a close look at nature. Arnould de Potesta de Tornaco’s lush photography examines the delicate signs that herald the changing of the seasons.

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We also have lots of new wallpapers. Here are just a few:

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That wraps up today’s review of new themes and wallpapers. I hope you’ll keep checking back on the Personalization Gallery for more new décor to keep your Windows PC or Windows Phone dressed in its best for the holidays and beyond.