Windows XP themes are customizations of the graphical user interface of Windows XP. Luna, Royale, Zune, and Embedded are official themes designed for Windows XP by Microsoft. Since Windows XP, themes include visual styles. By default, the Luna theme is preinstalled on Windows XP Home / Professional, the Royale (Energy Blue) theme is preinstalled on Windows XP Media Center Edition and the Embedded theme is preinstalled on Windows XP Embedded. All of the themes are compatible with all Windows XP editions. Compared to previous versions of Windows, the new scheme has a larger emphasis on the graphical appeal of the operating system, using bitmaps throughout the interface with rounded edges on each window. Since Luna's introduction, the scheme has been supplemented in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 with Royale, and Royale Noir, a Zune-derived edition of the Royale scheme.
Officially known as Windows XP style, the theme is available in three color schemes: Default (blue) (codenamed NormalColor), Olive Green (codenamed Homestead), and Silver (codenamed Metallic). The code names for these color themes can be observed in the file paths.
The "Windows classic style" theme is also available in Windows Vista and Windows 7 but must be enabled by the user. Users accustomed to older Windows versions such as Windows 2000 or Windows 98 may find it more comfortable to use. In addition to turning off visualizations, this option also offers relatively better performance and greater color and font customization options. The classic theme is also used for Safe mode and Win32 console windows in Windows XP.
Royale (also known as "Media Center style" and the blue color scheme is also known as "Energy Blue") is a GUI art concept produced by Microsoft and introduced in 2004 only in Windows Media Center desktops and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition Tablet PCs.
It is composed of a new wallpaper (inspired by Windows XP Bliss), a desktop theme and skins. The new Energy Bliss wallpaper is heavily inspired by the original Bliss but now is generated artificially with computer graphics (CG) rendering.
The concept presents a brilliant, relucent, vivid and faux-reflective color scheme with intense blue and green colors, somewhat reminiscent of the default blue Microsoft Office 2003 theme. Parts of the theme also compliment with the look of Windows Media Player 10 and Windows Media Center. The theme also foreshadows the look of Windows Vista, released two years later.
The Energy Blue theme was made originally available in December 2004 and is available for everyone. On April 7, 2005, Microsoft New Zealand made the wallpapers for the New Zealand theme available for download through Windows Genuine Advantage on the Microsoft website. It is possible to install the theme on non-Media Center Editions of Windows XP by manually expanding the installation cabinet file. Due to the freeware nature of this package, it is being delivered on popular download websites already hacked, such as Softpedia.
Microsoft also released a Windows Media Player visualization and skin. The skin was released in Experience Pack for Tablet PC and was available for free, but has a closed-install for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition devices. It is also possible to hack the cabinets and get it running for Windows XP.
The Royale Noir theme looks like a darkened version of Energy Blue, having a blackish and bluish to purple tint. Royale Noir has a black start button, which changes to green when the mouse hovers over it.
As Royale Noir was leaked and not finalized by Microsoft, it has been noted for some imperfections.
In 2006, oddbasket developed a finalized version of the theme known as Royale Remixed. A common misconception is that Royale Noir and Royale Remixed are the same theme.
A few weeks after Royale Noir was leaked, Zune was officially released as a new desktop theme to accompany the release of Microsoft's new Zune media player. Just like Royale Noir, Zune appears to be based on the Energy Blue theme. Zune displayed a brown to light shadow style. The Zune theme was the first to include a different color start button from the green XP one or the original grey one from the Classic theme.
It is not known whether or not Royale Noir was a beta for Zune.
“Embedded” theme was taken from “Windows Embedded Standard CTP Refresh” edition. It is similar to Energy Blue, featuring a mix of dark blue colors combined with a new wallpaper.
Third-party themes can only be used if the file uxtheme.dll is patched to allow unsigned themes. Patching the file is not sanctioned by Microsoft. Despite this, Microsoft is aware of such a practice and even suggests obtaining a newer revision of the patched uxtheme.dll file in case problems occur after Microsoft's own updates to the file have been applied (typically through an OS service pack).
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