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December 9, 2010

Around the world with Windows 7 themes

When you first got Windows 7 and started exploring its personalization options, you might have noticed that there was already a theme for your country when you went to the Personalization control panel.


I’m in the United States, so you can see that’s the theme I have here in my Personalization control panel, but if I was in the United Kingdom (or Canada, Mexico, South Africa, etc.), the theme you see here would be for that location instead.

Another thing you might have noticed is that we have a lot of international themes on the Personalization Gallery.  In this post I want to give you some behind-the-scenes information about how we created all these international themes for Windows 7.

First of all, these themes really did come from all over the world, not just from Microsoft main campus in Redmond, WA. When I was working on Windows 7 themes for specific places, such as India, Brazil, Italy, and Korea, I relied on co-workers in each country to advise me on which photographs would be best for their local areas. In other words, Microsoft employees in India voted on all the photos for the Indian themes; employees in Brazil voted on all the images for Brazil; and so on. Most of the photographs in the final themes were taken by professionals, but I also organized a worldwide employee photo contest to showcase what employees considered most unique and beautiful about their home countries. Here are a few of their winning photographs:

María Jesús Cuesta Lopez, Spain
Leandro de Paula, Brazil
Klaus Bachschneider, Germany
Kenny Chen, Taiwan
Ari Bixhorn, Canada
Shinobu Takahashi, Japan

As I explained in my blog post “Windows 7 Themes: Where was this photo taken?” you can find information about each picture, where it was taken, and the photographer, by going to the Desktop Background tab and hovering with your mouse pointer over each image.

My team produced 40 themes for 20 different locales as part of this project. Twenty of these themes are included in various language versions of Windows 7. A selected theme is installed depending on which language version of Windows 7 you buy, and where you live. So, if you buy the French version of Windows 7 and you select “France” as your location, you’ll see a French theme in your Personalization control panel. We created preinstalled Windows 7 themes for Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The other 20 themes we created are on the gallery, and are for the same locations, but have different images. So, if you buy the Japanese version of Windows 7 and set “Japan” as your location, you can have two different Japanese themes—one preinstalled on your PC, and one you can download from the gallery. Our goal in preinstalling themes for selected locations was to make Windows 7 feel like it was made for you from moment you begin to use it—no matter where you live in the world. We wanted to make sure there was a wide variety of themes available on the gallery, too—and we’ve been adding to it ever since.

In the past year, some Microsoft employees in the international offices have organized their own local photo contests or reached out to local photographers or artists to create even more themes and wallpapers that celebrate the landscape, natural beauty, arts or culture of their countries. Here are just a few of those:

We currently have almost 60 international themes. You can find these and many more on the gallery right now, and we add new themes and wallpapers all the time, so keep on checking back!