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March 6, 2012

Windows 8 themes: panoramas, auto color, and more

You may have heard that Windows 8 Consumer Preview was released last week! We also published a theme that showcases some of the new desktop theming features available in Windows 8.

First of all, I just want to clarify one point – all of our Windows 7 themes also work in Windows 8. But the reverse is not true. Themes created in the Windows 8 format will not work in Windows 7, because Windows 8 introduces a few new desktop personalization features that aren’t supported in Windows 7, and the file format is different.

The new feature I am most excited about is the ability to create and use panoramic themes that extend a single background across two monitors. I don’t know how many of you are running multimon, but now we can stretch a single panoramic image across both displays.


You do need to have each monitor set the same. If the displays are different sizes or have different resolution settings, the panorama will not automatically extend across both monitors. Instead, a different image will appear in each display.

Incidentally, you don’t need to have a dual monitor setup to use a theme that contains panoramic images. If you have only one monitor, each image will be cropped to the center. So those of you without multimon can still enjoy the images in the Windows Personalization Gallery’s very first Windows 8 theme, Nightfall and Starlight.


The next new feature is also aimed at users with dual monitor setups: Themes containing regular-size (non-panoramic) images will display a different image in each monitor, instead of just duplicating the same image, as occurs in Windows 7. Windows 8 actually does this automatically, even with Windows 7 themes.

The last new feature is auto color. Windows 8 themes created with the auto color setting will smoothly and automatically shift the Windows desktop glass and taskbar color to match the dominant color in whichever background image is currently being displayed. I really like this feature because it means I won’t have to struggle to try to find one single glass color that goes with every image in a set!



I hope you’ll enjoy trying out the new desktop personalization features in Windows 8 Consumer Preview. And keep visiting the Windows Personalization Gallery for new Windows themes and wallpapers – I add more almost every week.