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July 12, 2013
PC and the Personalization Gallery – now responsive!

I adore my Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone–in fact sometimes I wonder how I ever lived without a smartphone. One of the many things I love about it is having the power of the web at my fingertips at all times. For example, I can look up important data for the Boston Globe crossword puzzle I’m working on, such as the old name for Shropshire; who or what destroyed Carthage; and what country ancient Thebes was the capital of. (Some people would call this “cheating,” but I prefer to think of it as “research.”)

If you’ve ever browsed the web on your phone, though, you’ve probably noticed that on most websites, you have to zoom way in to read any of the text or see the images in a viewable size, and then zoom way back out again to navigate (for example, to find the site’s navbar or search box). And of course, when you are zoomed out to navigate, everything is so tiny it’s almost impossible to touch only the link or button you want. This makes it really frustrating and awkward to get the information you’re looking for.

Have you ever had this kind of experience when browsing on your phone or tablet, or trying to view it in Snap mode in Windows 8? If so, I am happy to announce that we just launched sitewide improvements that make responsive to your browsing device and screen size, regardless of your device. Whether you are viewing on a phone or a tablet, or viewing in Snap mode in Windows 8, the site resizes seamlessly in your browser.


Here is what the Download & Shop page used to look like on my phone. The layout is nice, but the text is so tiny I can barely read it, and the links on the navbar
are so small and close together that it is hard to touch just the one I want.

Now that the page reflows itself responsively for my device and screen-size, the text is big enough that I can actually read it, and the pictures are easier to view.

Try it yourself! Go to on your phone or tablet, or open it up in Windows 8 Snap view. Notice how all the elements of the site reflow, so that the text remains at a readable size and images scale and reposition themselves so you can view them easily. No more zooming in and out to alternate between reading and navigating!

Being able to read the text on a page is especially important in sections such as Support.


Here is what this Support topic looked like before. The text was so small I couldn’t read it without zooming
in to just a portion of the page… but then I had a hard time finding my way around.

Now I can actually read the text, and the image is much easier to see as well. No zooming required!

Not only do text and images now scale themselves appropriately, but some content elements will close themselves to save space, so you can view entire pages at a readable size more easily. For example, tabs will become expandable sections, which you can open or close by tapping or clicking. The navbar also gracefully gets out of the way to save space, and you can get it back by tapping or clicking on its icon.


The navbar icon is the three horizontal lines in the
upper right hand corner of my phone’s screen.

When I touch the navbar icon, the navbar opens up, and each link is big enough so I can easily touch just the thing I want.

We made these sitewide improvements so it will be easier for you to take advantage of all the great info on, no matter where you are or what device you’re using. Whether you want to learn how to do something new in the How-To section, look up the answer to a question in Support, or do some comparison shopping to find your perfect new PC, the answers are right in your pocket.

I’m sure it won’t surprise you when I admit that some of the changes I am most excited about are in the Personalization Gallery. It’s true that you can’t actually use themes on your phone, but you can certainly browse them to find ones you’d like to download later onto your PC or Windows tablet. And of course, you can use wallpapers on your Windows Phone, as I described in a previous blog post.

Trying to browse the gallery content or preview themes on smaller devices (or in Windows 8 Snap view) used to be a bit painful, but now it is a breeze. Take a look at how much easier it is to preview the images in a theme. Before, the theme information and preview images were tiny. But now the picture switcher reflows to give you the biggest possible preview for whatever device you are on.

In fact, you can try it out with the two new themes we’ve recently published. Our first new theme is a virtual tour through the varied and gorgeous landscapes (and waterscapes) of the Hawaiian Islands.



This is what the theme preview experience used to be
on a phone. The page layout is nice, but the text is so small that I can’t read it, and the preview image is not very big.

Now I can actually read the text, and the preview image is much bigger. To see the next image, I just touch the preview picture or use the < and > icons. I can scroll down to see the rest of the page content, which is now at a much more readable size.

Our other newest theme showcases the stunning sky photography of participants in our Open Call, in a dynamic selection that updates automatically with new images through an RSS feed. Images in this theme vary from serene blue skies to dramatic blazing sunsets. There are even some storm clouds, complete with bolts of lightning.


If you have an older version of Windows that can’t use themes, or if you prefer to use a single desktop background, be sure to check out the fresh wallpapers. Here are just a few:


As I mentioned in a previous blog post, you can also use these wallpapers on your Windows Phone and on your Windows 8 or Windows RT lock screen.

I hope these recent updates to will make all your future research easier and more rewarding whether you visit us at your desk or on the go, with your phone, tablet, or in Snap view. And keep checking back on the Personalization Gallery for more new themes and wallpapers to keep your Windows devices looking sharp.

And in case you were wondering, the answers are “Salop,” “Scipio,” and “Boeotia.” Thank you, web search! There are some crossword puzzles I would never be able to finish without you.