HP Gets Custom Backgrounds On Windows 7 Starter Edition

Do you remember when many people we stating that one of the really nasty things about the Starter Edition of Windows 7 was that the user was stuck with one rather nasty background, and no way to change it? I remember seeing a certain site trying to get around the problem through some registry magic, to no avail.

Now many will say it is no big deal, because many of us who’ve been around for awhile remember green letters on a black background as the standard. Even then, there were those who worked to get something different, which is why there were amber monitors, and then paper-white monitors, with black letters on a soft white background.

Just like the dark days gave rise to those who wished to be different, we have that strain still with us, as some will do almost anything to conquer the desktop, and not bend to the will of those who wish to make these industrious souls conform.

Some of those people must reside at HP – or else they simply know that choice makes the world go around. They have now featured a way to get the stripped down version of Windows 7, Starter, yet have the ability to change what the netbook will look like when cracked open to show the screen. (I’m sure that many will use this as a good way to easily distinguish their netbook from any other of the same make and model.)

A small blurb at Within Windows describes how HP has (legally) done it -

Back in March, I wrote about how Microsoft was restricting wallpaper usage on their Starter SKU of Windows 7 – a version of Windows to be preloaded by OEMs onto netbooks. Nicholas R., mistakenly initially emailing Paul, noticed HP was somehow bypassing this restriction according to a bulleted claim on their Mini 110 netbook product page:

The unique ability to change the wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter: a specialized theme includes a custom screen saver and 15 wallpapers designed by Boontje.

How is this possible?

Upon clicking the Customize and Buy link on HP’s website, and clicking through the various customizable components, you’ll discover the included software bundle consisting of some simple applications and a copy of Stardock MyColors, designed for Windows 7. For those unaware, MyColors is simply a stripped down WindowBlinds application targeting the download-and-apply-my-theme users that don’t need the power (or cost) of WindowBlinds. The internals, however, are the same. As this software replaces the Microsoft Windows theming subsystem with its own, it completely bypasses any and all license restrictions imposed by Microsoft. (On the surface, this doesn’t feel very… legal. But I’m sure Microsoft green lighted this.)

(Slight addition [10/20]): MyColors also features some DesktopX and IconPackager code. Thanks for the note, Julien.

So there you go. An updated copy of MyColors for download should be available on or shortly after October 22, the same day Windows 7 officially launches.

Where there is a will, there is a way – there must be some old-timers at HP that have heard that old saw, and believed it. This may be just the small change needed to make the HP netbook a standout amongst its brethren, and sell many more units. Just what the HP doctor ordered.

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Quote of the day:

I’m a godmother, that’s a great thing to be, a godmother. She calls me god for short, that’s cute, I taught her that.

- Ellen DeGeneres



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