A Windows “theme” is a package that includes desktop background images, a screen saver, a window border color and a sound scheme. Some themes include desktop icons and mouse pointers.
The brands in the ad-sponsored Windows 7 Themes for your desktop are mostly hidden. You won’t be seeing a giant Coca-Cola logo draped across your desktop, but rather a collection of weird and wacky images from Coke’s “Happiness Factory” ad campaign with a Coke bottle placed in the background. The Porsche and Ferrari themes deliver lustrous images of their sports cars. It’s pure eye candy for car lovers.
The ad-sponsored themes are part of a pilot program that Microsoft is calling the Windows Theme Experience and can be downloaded by Windows 7 users at Microsoft’s Windows Personalization Gallery site.
[ For complete coverage on Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system — including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts — see CIO.com’s Windows 7 Bible. ]
The themes are available to Windows 7 users only if they want them. Microsoft is stressing that the ad-sponsored themes are opt-in, and will not be forced upon users.
The program will run on Windows 7 until Oct. 2010 and currently includes advertisers such as Coca-Cola, Ducati motorcycles, Infiniti, Porsche, Pepsi, Ferrari and Twentieth Century Fox. Microsoft itself is also participating, with themes for Bing and Zune.
I don’t like to feel like I’m being tricked into peddling products. But I got over that and downloaded a few Windows 7 Themes. The Bing theme offers stunning photos from exotic locations (though the “Bing” logo in the lower right is a distraction). The Pepsi “Refresh Everything” images simply repeat everything and are lame. The Coca-Cola “Happiness Factory” images are much more fun, and the Porsche car images are a thing of beauty. If I can’t buy a Porsche, at least I can gaze at their best wheels on my desktop.
What do you think of branded desktop themes in Windows 7? Offensive or cool? Any brands you’d like to see included?