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Microsoft teased a host of new features that are incoming with the Creators Update. That was at the Windows 10 event back in October.
Fast forward to December and Microsoft is introducing one of those teased features to the Windows Store. The first batch of Windows 10 themes have arrived in the Windows Store. However, you can’t actually use them yet — officially.
In that sense, the tease continues, but at least we can preview the range of themed sounds, wallpapers, and window settings. Moreover, we will show you a workaround to use the themes after all!
They’re There… But Not Quite
The new Windows 10 themes remain frustratingly out of reach. Windows 10 Insider Preview 14965 users can see them and click them (heck, they can even preload them) but until they go fully live in early 2017, that’s all that will happen. They even appear in the regular Windows Store.
Here are some of the new themes found in 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)
Windows 10 Home and Pro users can follow those links to enter the Windows Store page for each listed theme. However, you won’t be downloading. Instead, you can follow the Join Now button to enlist in the Windows Insider Program (this still doesn’t grant you access, at least not yet).
Our very own Joel Lee has explained exactly why you should join the Windows Insider Program. Conversely, Ben Stegner has detailed several reasons why it might be time to leave the Windows Insider Program. They’re excellent reads and will help you decide if receiving early “beta” updates is right for you.
Look But Don’t Touch… Much
Windows 10 Home and Pro users currently using Build 14393.576 (the latest release) can browse what is available. Type Store in the Start menu search bar and select the first result. Alternatively, select the Windows Store icon on your taskbar.
Once the Windows Store loads, select Top apps. Then select Personalization from the Category drop-down menu.
Once the Personalization section loads, scroll down to view the new Windows 10 themes. My personal favorites are Garden Macros and Futuristic Fractals by Duncan Lawler.
These both make a return from Windows 7.
What If I Can’t Wait?
Then you’ll be happy to know there is a sneaky way around the theme embargo. However, Microsoft doesn’t make it easy.
Please bear in mind the following tutorial only applies to Windows Insider Preview users on Build 14951 or higher.
Find the theme you’d like to preload and download it. Don’t skip this part!
Head to C:\Program Files\WindowsApps. If you cannot see this file, use the Windows Explorer View tab to Show Hidden items.
You’ll then need to make yourself owner of the newly discovered folder and its contents. When you attempt to open the folder, you’ll likely be denied permission. This is fine. Click the highlighted security tab link in the error message, followed by Advanced, then Continue.
The current owner is good old TrustedInstaller. Select Change.
Input the name of your administrator account under Enter the object name to select, then press Check Names. It should return your computer name with your administrator account name, like the below image. Then press OK.
Select Replace owner of subcontainers and objects. This will save us having to do this again in a moment. Then press Apply.
Windows 10 will hastily change the permissions of each item in the WindowsApps folder. You now need to look for a filename that corresponds to the theme you previously downloaded.
Once located, open the folder, and launch the .themepack file.
Theme, Theme, Theme
Once the so-called Creators Update goes live in 2017, the Windows Store Personalization section should see many more original options. There is even a chance that Windows 10 themes will feature on the Xbox One. Furthermore, we’ve already seen Microsoft test the water with some paid themes. Microsoft briefly teased the Minecraft: Steve’s Stroll theme for $1.99 and a League of Legends: Classic Vayne theme for $2.49.
Given the vast amount of money people spend on cosmetic objects for free games, we can safely say these would attract a significant amount of interest.
So, When Is the Update?
The Windows 10 Creators Update (or Windows 10 Version 1703: Redstone 2) is scheduled for release sometime during Spring 2017. As well as the introduction of themes to the Windows Store, the Creators Update is set to boost “the next wave of innovation… giving you creativity and gaming experiences built around the people who matter most.”
We’ll see support for the Windows Holographic suite, an improved Action Center, full pen support for Microsoft Word (following on from the Windows Ink announcement), and the Groove Music Maker app. As well as this, other neat little features, like the themes and custom accent colors are set to arrive.
Are you excited about the Windows Store themes? Or do you prefer to design your own? Has anything in the Creators Update caught your eye? Let us know your thoughts below!