Windows 8 Themes will not work on Windows 7 and its Incomplete

I was not surprised when Microsoft today gave out details on Windows 8 Themes and clearly said that Windows 8 Themes will not work on Windows 7 even though themes made for Windows 7 will work on Windows 8 but will not be able to utilize all the features. In this post, I am first explaining why it is different and second I am arguing why Windows 8 Themes are incomplete.

Themes on Windows 8 are different :

Dual Monitor Support :

If you remember to achieve the same in Windows 7,  we are using a lot of software which can set up multiple wallpapers or extend dual screen monitor working, even though the task bar was missing.  Now with, Windows 8 what you actually get are these.

  • Multiple desktop, which can have the same wallpaper extended or can have two different wallpapers if they are panoramic image.
  • Themes which do not support panoramic feature, will have different wallpaper on every monitor.
  • Each of the desktop has its own Taskbar though the clock is missing.

Windows 8 Panoramic Theme

Auto Color :

Any theme built following the auto color idea of Windows 8 Theme will be able to change the color of the Windows desktop glass and taskbar color. This makes sure everything is alike. In fact, this was hacked for Windows 7 also sometimes back.

Windows 8 Themes are incomplete too

I am not sure why Start Screen is excluded from Themes. If you have already started using Windows 8 Consumer Preview, you must have noticed these.

  • Windows 8 Themes are not able to change the background wallpaper or the color scheme of  Start Screen. Its probably Microsoft did not want to clutter this part, exactly as Windows Phone but then I wonder why they did not bring colour schemes for start screen like we have for Windows Phone There is even a hack for this too, but its bit complicated.
  • Windows 8 Start Screen do not extend to second monitor it is just the desktop which gets extended. I will not directly blame themes for this, but since it cannot extend, themes cannot make use of this feature on multiple screens either.

Software for Windows 8 Themes on Windows 7 and XP

Inside Windows 8 Themes

Windows 8 Themes have different extension now  which is .desktopthemepack which in Windows 7 is .themepack but  if you actually rename any of the theme into a .zip file and take a look, you will see both have same set of files i.e. one is .theme and other is a folder DesktopBackground which contains all your wallpapers.

Now if you actually open the .theme file in notepad here is what you will see for Windows 8

[Control Panel\Desktop]
Wallpaper=DesktopBackground\nightfall_starlight_panoramic1.jpg
Pattern=
MultimonBackgrounds=0
PicturePosition=4

[VisualStyles]
Path=%SystemRoot%\resources\themes\Aero\Aero.msstyles
ColorStyle=NormalColor
Size=NormalSize
ColorizationColor=0X7DCF9D6F
Transparency=1
Composition=1
VisualStyleVersion=10
AutoColorization=1

But for Windows 7

[Control Panel\Desktop]
Wallpaper=DesktopBackground\smokedbywp_480x800.jpg
TileWallpaper=0
WallpaperStyle=10
Pattern=

[VisualStyles]
Path=%SystemRoot%\resources\themes\Aero\Aero.msstyles
ColorStyle=NormalColor
Size=NormalSize
ColorizationColor=0X80555555
Transparency=1
Composition=1
VisualStyleVersion=10

Now if, I am not wrong, Picture Postion is actually same as TileWallpaper which comes from the Properties “Tile, Stretch, Fit” etc. MultionBackgrounds AutoColorization is straight forward.

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