During Microsoft’s press event in October, the company introduced the Surface Book with Performance Base, the Surface Studio all-in-one PC, and the upcoming Creators Update slated for the spring of 2017. Microsoft also indicated that themes for Windows 10 would be offered directly from the Windows Store once Creators Update arrived. The first batch of these themes are now listed in the store, but they can’t actually be used … at least for now.
The new Windows Store themes are now available to install by participants of the Windows Insider program, but they can’t be used in Windows 10 just yet. While the latest preview build may already include Creators Update components, Microsoft isn’t expected to activate the ability to use these themes until early 2017. Until then, Insiders can merely wait until a compatible preview arrives, or lock and load them now ahead of theme support.
Here are some of the provided themes found on the Windows Store:
- Alaskan Landscapes (Kyle Waters)
- Australian Landscapes (Ian Johnson)
- Beauty of Britain 2 (Sean Byrne)
- Cats Anytime (Microsoft)
- Dogs In Winter (Microsoft)
- German Landscapes (Mathias Rehberg)
- Surreal Territory (Chuck Anderson)
Note that by clicking on one of the links, general Windows 10 users will pull up the theme listed on the Windows Store, but they can’t download or install it. Instead, they are provided with a “Join Now” button to enlist in the Windows Insider program. Meanwhile, Insiders will see a button to download the theme, although there’s currently nothing in place to actually make the theme active.
Windows 10 power users can preview the themes by going into the Program Files folder and make the WindowsApps folder visible. After that, users must make themselves the owner of the folder and its contents before accessing the themes, as it’s locked by Windows 10 by default. Once that’s done, users can access the theme files located within.
Right now, Windows 10 users must continue the old fashion way of grabbing new desktop themes by visiting Microsoft’s website. The company divides them all up into categories, such as Animals, Holiday & Seasons, Games, Plants & Flowers, and more. Surprisingly, Microsoft never introduced a Themes section in the Windows Store when it launched Windows 10 in July 2015.
Once Creators Update goes live in the spring, Windows 10 users will see a new “Personalization” section in the Windows Store. This is where the themes will reside, and may even be made available to Xbox One console owners. However, Microsoft plans to offer paid themes as well, as the company briefly teased Minecraft: Steve’s Stroll for $1.99 and League of Legends: Classic Vayne for $2.49 during October’s event.
The most recent build of Windows 10 for Insiders is 14986 for PC released just days ago. The build added music playback control to Cortana, improvements to the Windows Game Bar full-screen option, improvements to Windows Ink, and more. That said, the current rollout of themes in the Windows Store should indicate that Store-based theme support is right around the corner for Windows Insider participants.
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