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A Look Behind the Backgrounds of Windows 7

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There's no doubt that the backgrounds in Windows 7 are the most unique in Microsoft's history. What was the thinking behind them? Who comes up with the backgrounds? How do you determine what art hundreds of millions of people would like to see every day? Senior UX Lead Denise Trabona joined me to talk about the story behind the backgrounds of Windows 7. 

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  • I really like some of the new desktop backgrounds that are in Windows 7 and my step daughter (3 1/2) has even commented on them.  I also really like the fact that you can set up a slideshow that changes the wallpaper on its own (maybe this will be the nail in the coffin of the dredded Weatherbug virus).  The transparent title bar is neato.  It's all a step in the right direction!

     

    But what has really confounded me for years is why Microsoft seems to have such a reluctance to add any sort of "sex appeal" to Windows and their other products.  Windows has been "themable" for years but the themes it ships with and the options you actually have control over if you want to create your own theme have next to zero "gee whiz" value. Click the "get more themes online" button and you get a choice of a handful of syrupy looking pictures of places you can't afford to go on vacation to.

     

    For years the Linux desktops have let you make your windows wood grained, brushed steel, polka dotted, whatever.  Only now, in 2009, has Windows 7 added the option to change color and tune the color intensity to the title bar.  Oooh wow!  Give me control over the colors hue and I may not be able to control myself.

     

    Literally 15 years ago when I was running ultra-fuggly windows 3.x my best friends Mac had plaid scroll bars and screensavers that just blew your mind.  Today, Windows 7 RC ships with, count them, six sreensavers.  Are you Mystified yet?  If ribbons.scr is giving you bad flashbacks to your acid trip days, perhaps blank.src is more your speed.   Zzzzzzz....

     

    Is this Microsoft?  Are these the people that shipped the Windows Presentation Framework (WPF) several years ago?  The company that makes Silverlight which is capable of cross platoform video shaders that talk directly to hardware?

     

    I realize that Microsoft has to ship their product to hundreds of millions of customers in many different cultures so I'm not expecting Windows to ship with a Nude Penthouse Magazine Centerfold theme or mouse cursors that look ike boogers.  But couldn't you venture out of yous shell a little further than a single architecture theme with a handful of pictures of buildings in Seatle - all taken within a 300 foot radius?

     

    Relax a little, Microsoft.  Loosen up.  Let down your hair.  Get weird!!

     

    p.s. - so as not to sound like tooooo much a flame, allow me to reiterate that some of the new backgrounds really are neat.

  • Allan LindqvistaL_ Kinect ftw

    the new backgrunds are great Smiley imo microsoft have loosend up and gotten a little weird with them (a good thing)

    my only regrett is tha there are to ofew of them.. beeign infron of my computer every day all day backgrunds tend to get stale.. its also sort of annyoing that there are extra ones that are hidden, all regions sould be exposed as themes imo Smiley

     

    also, why isnt there an options to download more backgrounds from microsoft directly in the personalize ui? that'd been awsome Smiley

    -edit-

    actually there is, but its under the themes, my bad

  • Joshua RossJoshRoss Drinking Ovaltine since 2004

    Great interview!  Where is the link for Windows Online Gallery?

  • I do not need backgrounds.

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