Just recently, we showed you how to create your own Windows 8 theme, but if you do not want to bother with this, or don’t possess the photos to create one, then you can always track down one produced by someone else. Microsoft is the single biggest source of ready-made themes, maintaining an ever-growing library that it calls the Personalization Gallery.
There are thousands of themes just waiting for the chance to call your computer home. Categories include animals, art, landscapes, movies, games and more. You can browse through the choices on your own, but you may spend hours doing so. To save you some time, we’ve assembled ten themes that encompass different areas of interest. Browse through our top choices below.
1. Beaches Panoramic
Monitors are not only growing in size, but an increasing number of people are now going with a two monitor setup. Microsoft recognizes this and has begun to release themes that are specifically geared towards filling this need.
Beaches Panoramic takes you on a tour of some of the most spectacular tropical locations around the world, including Hawaii, Australia, the Caribbean, Spain and more. Nine images in all are included in the pack.
2. Castles of Europe
One of my personal favorites, Castles of Europe is a large (21 images) theme pack that depicts some of the most famous homes/fortresses from the old world.
Included are such spectacular landmarks as Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania, made famous in the Dracula story, the lonely looking Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, and Neuschwanstein Castle surrounded by fog near Füssen, Germany which was made famous when Disney used it as the model for Sleeping Beauty Castle at its amusement park.
3. Alaska Landscapes
There are few places left in the world that are wilder or more beautiful than America’s 49th state. There are few people and an incredible amount of space to spread them out across.
The theme packs in 15 images that depict one of the world’s last great frontiers – a place where man is still the underdog against the elements and and the wildlife.
4. African Wildlife
Alaska may be known for its wild animals, but perhaps it has nothing on the plains of Africa, where the story of man began. Despite that distinction, these 14 images depict an entirely different world.
Here you will come face to face with some of the most beautiful and dangerous wildlife on the planet. From the massive elphants to the fast moving big cats, its all here.
5. Deserts Panoramic
Moving back to that multi-monitor setup that you either have or want, Deserts Panoramic is another theme to consider. The 13 images contained in it will spread out across both your screens to fill all of that real estate. The name describes the theme, but don’t expect just sand – there is a beautiful oasis or two as well.
6. Echoes of the Past
Great themes do not always have to be about wildlife and landscapes. Sometimes it’s simply about the photography – capturing the image for what it depicts and lends to the imagination.
There is no better example of that than this collection of 16 backgrounds, that come with a certain antiquity to them. Old-fashioned is not particularly hard to portray in a photo, but doing it right makes all of the difference. Skeleton keys, ancienct script, its all here in this package.
7. Eerie Autumn
It’s that time of year – leaves are changing colors, football is on TV, and little children dress up to scare us in the name of seeking candy. Ghosts, witches and monsters are all part of autumn.
If you would like a theme to match the mood, then check out these 15 images, designed to haunt your bedtime hours. Spooky scenes and jack’o'lanterns are just part of the fun here.
8. Hawaii Theme
When it comes to scenic vistas, it’s rather hard to top the Hawaiian islands. The 50th state does not have monopoly on beautiful locations, but sometimes it sure seems that way.
From black sand beaches to incredible waves for surfers, and all the way to the top of the towering volcanos, the small Pacific island chain has something for everyone. And much of that is depicted in these 16 images.
The poles are disappearing at an alarming rate and, if you wish to see the spectacular scenery there, then you may need to hurry. The massive glaciers and ice shelves are calving off at a speed unseen in the modern era. This theme includes images to show your grandchildren the way things used to be.
Over the past couple of years, Microsoft has released several theme packs that feature sets of images pulled from the library of Bing daily background images. However, if you want more than just a few past pictures, then you will want to check out the Bing Desktop app, which offers an ever-changing wallpaper. Each day, the app displays the latest Bing daily image, so you will never again see the same picture twice.
There are a couple of things that need to be pointed out here, though. First, this is more than just a dynamic RSS-powered theme, it is also a Bing search app – a little icon on your taskbar that lets you easily use Bing to search for whatever you wish and also check your local weather, trending topics, news and more. Second, be careful while installing – by default the app wants to make Bing your default search engine and MSN your new homepage. Both options can be unchecked.
This is only a small sampling of the themes available in the personalization gallery, but it represents some of the more spectacular photography that can be found there. There are also other sites around the web that distribute themes and wallpapers, as well. Now I leave you with the decision of which one to grab first.