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Unofficial Windows XP Themes Created by Microsoft

Anybody who has ever tried to change the theme in Windows will already know that you have to hack the uxtheme file in order to install themes into XP that aren’t digitally signed by Microsoft. If you would rather not or are unable to patch your system you might be interested in these unofficial themes created by Microsoft.

There might be other themes out there, but these are the ones I know about. Feel free to inform everybody in the comments if you know of any others.

Royale

This theme is really bright and blue… Just look at all that blue…

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To install this theme you’ll need to download, extract the zipfile, and then run the installer. When prompted for the location to save the files, leave it set to default.

image

Now you can go into your display settings and change the theme from the list.

Download Royale Theme from Softpedia

Royale Noir

This theme was supposed to be a darker version of the regular Royale theme, but it wasn’t really finished before somebody from Microsoft published it, and it spread all over the web.

image

After downloading and extracting the zipfile, you’ll need to copy the royale_noir folder into C:\Windows\Resources\Themes and then double-click on the Luna.msstyles file found in that directory and change the settings to match the above screenshot.

image

Download Royale Noir theme from istartedsomething.com 

Zune Theme

This theme was released to celebrate the Zune launch, and you’ll notice it’s very similar to Royale Noir, except for the kinda ugly orange start button. Long time readers will note that we’ve mentioned this theme before.

image

Installing this theme is really simple… download and run the installer.

Download Zune Theme from Microsoft.com

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/14/07

Comments (52)

  1. Havencircle

    There are no others! At least, none signed by MS. Trust me, I’ve been looking for years. These are all there is and I can all but garauntee that these 3 will be it thanks to Vista. I really had wished that Microsoft would release more themes and never understood why they didn’t. I was hoping this article had ones I haven’t discoved but, alas…

  2. bart

    Dozens of beatifull themes @ Tuneup Utilities.

  3. Eli

    the Royal Noir messed up my computer real bad :X

  4. Skippy

    I wasn’t aware of any themes made by Microsoft that were official, aside from the Energy Blue Media Center one, since it came with my computer. However, a program I like for themes can be found at AlienWare’s website, named AlienGUIse. It comes with five (last I saw) themes, and it’s free, even if you don’t own an AlienWare.

  5. Robert Tipping

    Why not use window blinds(Stardock) more skins than a herd of cats and if you’ve got the patience you can make your own.
    Been using it for a month or so no major problems depends on the skin.

  6. Skippy

    I would use Window Blinds but it always seemed as though it cost money. AlienGUIse is actually based off of StarDock so I do know it works very well

  7. Will

    There is another official theme called “Energy Blue” that is shipped with the Media Center and Tablet PC versions of Windows XP. I have no idea how you would get it if you have the vanilla XP version, though.

  8. Havencircle

    Look, you can have all the Stardock and AlienGUIse stuff you want. As far as MICROSOFT SIGNED THEMES (what this post is about), there aren’t any others than the ones posted here. Stardock/Windowblinds use system resources – these, the ones posted, do not!
    I just want some Microsoft signed XP themes. Does anybody know if there are any?

  9. Tim

    I tries stardock windowblinds. What a pack of bloatware, and I imagine quite a bit of spyware. Don’t do it, windowblinds is not free.

    [editors note: I would have deleted this comment except that it's been responded to already]

  10. Maury

    That’s a theme for publicize Microsoft Zune… I’ve seen this theme for frist time about one year ago.

  11. Aaron

    @ Tim…

    You really shouldn’t make comments like that without any information to back it up. I’ve used WindowBlinds on and off for years, they’re practically (physically) my neighbors, and I’ve talked to them many times (as a registered user and not) via email and they’re nice, genuine people. I usually use a unique email alias with companies that I’m not familiar with, and after many years with only Stardock knowing this alias I’ve never received any spam/junk at that address. Finally, one man’s bloat is another man’s feature. Yes, there’s a lot of stuff to WIndowBlinds – options, config windows, but any “feature” that you don’t want, you can turn off. The ONLY thing that’s related that I’d personally consider “bloat” would be user-created themes. People that don’t know how to optimize graphics and theme files can make it seem like the app is slow or bloated.

    No – I’m not affiliated with them and not getting anything for writing this. I just don’t like to see something/someone disrespected like that when the problem may just as easily be user error/ignorance.

    That said, if you don’t have the resources to run WindowBlinds or you’re a gamer or performance computer user, you probably don’t want to use up *any* resources just to make your windows look pretty.

  12. The Geek

    I’ll have to agree with Aaron here… Stardock is a good company that puts out quality products, not right to accuse them of spyware.

  13. beginner2

    There is another unofficial microsoft signed theme. http://www.softpedia.com/get/Desktop-Enhancements/Themes/Microsoft-ChristmasTheme.shtml
    Christmas theme.

  14. jd2066

    @beginner2: Unfortunately that one is just a theme of wallpaper and few other things. It doesn’t contain a new Window style like the ones in this article, it just uses the Luna Olive style included with XP.

  15. GLox

    I currently use Flyakite OS, which you can find by googling the name. make your PC look like a Mac. i find it to be better looking than most Windows themes.

  16. Andy

    I have all three on my laptop – Zune was the easiest to install since it is the most finalized one. Royale was not much harder but the real hard one was royale noir although it is by far the best. I got my version from http://www.istartedsomething.com/20061029/royale-noir/ Download it and save it to an easy to access file. You can then start it up (the – luna.msstyles – folder and run it) This get you to the display proptieries screen where you can have a look at it on windows but on my laptop whenever I started it up I would have to redo this process since it reset to the classic theme.

    Now if you have this problem what you have to do is open the readme file associated with the theme when you uncompressed it. This tells you to copy and paste the theme into
    c:\windows\resources\themes

    Now this is really technical (make it look like the other folders – this means copy and paste the luna.msstyles folder into c:\windows\resources\themes directly (rename this as luna1.theme)(since Luna is already taken up by the original royale theme it has to be called luna1 (no spaces)

    Now make a new folder called Luna1 and in this put the Shell file and the oringinal Luna.msstyles folder and you should be ok.

    I hope this has helped you please post follow ups i will try and reply within a couple of days

  17. Dean Mitchell

    I have tried the Zune theme and I have tried the Royale Noir theme and I much prefer the Royale Noir theme. The ugly orange Start button had nothing to do with the preference but the black Start button in Royale Noir was a pleasant change. Royale Noir is very simple to install and the definition of the various windows with that theme is superior to the definition with Zune.

  18. Stephen

    I wish the Windows Live team would release a new Windows Live style theme for XP, that would be awesome to Officialy give Windows XP the look of Windows Live apps.

    I remember when Windows XP was in Beta testing all those years ago (seems like). Microsoft had said “Windows XP comes with Three new themes, Standard Blue, Silver and Olive Green, with more to come in the future.” Well Microsoft the first OS to have a shelf life so far of seven years. And within the last three years, only 2 offical new themes came out, and one unofficial leaked. Hmmmmm. Seems like Microsft owes us a few more themes before they pull the OS off the shelf……Personaly aside from the Windows Live theme idea, I would like to see maybe an update to Windows XP with a color chooser much like the one with the Aero theme in Windows Vista so we can just choose the color of Windows we want.

  19. no_one

    Just a note…you may wish to not use the Royale Noir theme, I tried it last night and it shut down my services, which is not a large drama as system restore solved the problem after killing Royale Noir.
    Which is a crying shame as it is by far the best looking theme.

  20. Royale

    @Eli/no_one
    Most of you people having issues need to know that the royal_noir theme needs to be placed in: “WINDOWS\Resources\Themes\Royal_Noir” and the “luna.msstyles” that comes in the zip to be renamed to “Royale_Noir.msstyles” for it to work properly. I would also reccomend having the original “Royale” installed as well JIC as the Royale_Noir is a drop option of the Royale style..

    @Skippy/Will
    The “Energy Blue” theme is “Royale” I think.. Unless you are talking about the pre-2005 version of media center edition.

    @everyone
    You can also patch your uxtheme.dll verious ways to enable 3rd party themes. Though this is against Micro$oft rules..

  21. Roanoke

    I read the comments and tried getting the Royale Noir theme to match my recent MS Office black color theme (since it’s a black/dark steel color theme) and I had no problem with it at all (*read the comment by Andy* – very helpful!). I created a file folder on my desktop, called it Luna1, extracted the files to it and then simply moved the entire folder to the “WINDOWS\Resources\Themes” folder. After clicking on the “luna.msstyles” icon (in which I also renamed from “luna” to “luna1″), it took me to the MS Properties menu in which I chose “color: Royale Noir”.

    P.S. If your like me and like to change the XP theme of your computer often, I suggest that after you get the Royale Noir theme on your computer that you go to the “Themes” tab under MS Properties menu and “Save as” the theme as something (I named mine “My Black Noir”, how original xP) and then save that theme to the default location of My Documents. This way, if you change your theme later, and then decide to change back to the Royale Noir theme, you can just choose your theme from the drop down menu (the one you just saved to My Documents) and use it again quickly. This keeps you from having to go all the way through the “WINDOWS\Resources\Themes” folder just to use the theme again.
    ~Note~ If you move/save the file that you just “Save As” to any other folder other than the default location My Documents, it won’t appear in the drop down menu and you’ll have to browse to wherever you chose to put it to use it again.

    P.S.S. Royale Noir sure looks awesome! I was getting SO sick of blue. ^.^

  22. mihir

    hey.!! i hv to change Royale noir theme again n again..!! means royale noir theme is nt lik Zune theme or Royale theme once it’s installed n done. wat i want is i don need 2 change Royale noir theme frm inside C programs/windows/resources…it shuld b directly get change frm properties/settings/appearence. [eg zune n royale..!] pls reply me soon

  23. Roanoke

    I guess I don’t get ur problem mihir, :/ I go to Display Properties/Appearance choose Royale and then select under the Color Scheme drop down tab Royale Noir; and I get it. Not entirely sure why yours doesn’t work like this sry.

  24. Clutch

    Royal blue looks awesome, thanks :)

  25. 0Hz

    This “Embedded XP” is supposedly a MS signed theme:

    http://www.askvg.com/download-new-official-embedded-theme-for-windows-xp-and-2003-no-file-patching-required/

    It is very easy to apply and I think it looks pretty good. Kinda like Royale Blue but a little different.

  26. Josh

    Hey everybody

    Just wanted to add my thoughts. I was very pleased to find this site about the official/unofficial Microsoft themes. I’ve tried Windowsblinds and transformation packs. I even tried a “Make XP look like a Mac” transformation pack that found. At first I was fooled into thinking I had a mac. In the end it just used up to much performance and slowed my machine down. When I used WindowsBlinds and StyleXP they also slowed my machine down. Do many processes in the back ground. Plus most windows users will agree that because almost every program wants to add a “start when XP starts” process then one more that controls your GUI makes it slower. After I used these programs and was not impressed by performance and the fact that I had to pay for it. No offense but I would never pay for a program like that because at the end of the day I don’t need a fancy new look to the GUI.

    Come on after awhile the default Luna themes get old, Blue, Silver, Olive. After years of using XP and getting board these new themes are a fresh look for XP. They don’t change much more than color but after all those years of Luna I am liking the new themes. I also have a rule: If the software is not made by Microsoft or a trustworthy company I don’t use it. So the fact that these themes are Signed by Microsoft is a plus. Not that they make the best software in the world, its just that I won’t ever use homemade themes by people that make ‘em for WindowsBlinds. I love these new themes. I really like the Zune theme. I see that some of you don’t like the orange start menu, but for me its a welcome change to the olive, green, or silver.

    Thanks for the cool theme downloads and the best part is I didn’t need any special software or need to modify my Themeui.dll.

    Thanks again. lovin them

  27. Graphicsgod

    Heres the file and all you have to do is copy it to your themes directory. After that just select it via the properties window.

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/mfnvdonnwwr/Royal_Noir.zip

    BTW, can’t get Zune skin to work. I install it and when I try to apply it, my windows just freeze :(. Any way to get a ver. that works ;)? Will look into it to see if I can fix it…

    Rob

  28. Ryan

    Hey I got these, was happy to find others rather than standard ”green-blue-silver” royal noir is nice. Works fine for me. Using XP sp2 on laptop. No problems as of yet. So happy to find these, hope someone can find some more. Happiness to all and all peace.

    Ryan

    p.s. zune theme is really cool too.

  29. Josh Dunlavy

    Does anyone notice how incomplete most of these Microsoft themes are? Pitiful.

    Zune Theme: Check out “Music Tasks” in My Music directory. See the graphic in the lower-right corner? Ugh! Also, don’t any of you notice the incomplete pink pixel on the start menu (if account picture is displayed and you’re not on a domain). There are other mouse-over errors introduced in this Zune theme that are all solved by the amazing “Zune Complete” package. Google it.

    Noir Theme: Anyone who uses this theme has low standards. Completely ugly with incomplete roll-over effects. Beta at best.

    Royale Theme: This is actually professional. So, out of three signed msstyles, we only get ONE usable theme from Microsoft.

  30. John

    Windows XP Embedded theme was released on october 07.I prefer this one.He looks pretty.Combined with WMP11 in blue are specially cute.
    1.)Embedded Theme
    2.)Media Center Theme AKA Energy Blue
    3.)Zune Theme
    4.)Royal Noir
    Kind regards.

  31. Christian

    I’ve been using zune theme for quite awhile now, and i think that it is great.
    There is this patch for the zune theme that lets you change the color of the orange.
    Pretty neat, check it:http://th04.deviantart.com/fs13/300W/i/2007/067/e/b/Zune_Theme_Color_Mod_by_atomikscr.jpg

  32. Jesse

    Does anybody know how I could hack the resource for the Zune theme to make the start button turquoise?

    I did the ol’ bitmap switch with my own BMP, but it screwed up everything. lol.
    Any ideas?

  33. Dan

    Hey! I love you guys! seriously for months now ive been stuggling to get my xp theme to work atleast, ( its not in the themes drop down menu ) had to deal with ugly classic windows. Downloading Zune told me that my themes manager wasn’t enabled, so off i went turned it on and Voila!! there she blows a beautiful load of skins and the ability to change it to xp whenever i want!! Thank god!!

    Cheers

  34. Seth

    There is also a theme on crystalxp.net under bricopacks that is called Vista Inspirat 2 that give you a new theme like the real Vista. It even has the cursor set!

  35. Orange

    @ Eli What? upgrade your computer!

  36. Msk

    The zune theme is stylish coz of its black & orange mix. Royale is just glossier than the default theme.

  37. Helpful Nerd

    Hey everyone, Howdy Geek

    Love your site, big fan. Great info, and I check your site all the time for new stuff. Just wanted to add another comment about the Windows Themes by MS. I found another official / unofficial theme called Embedded.

    I recently started my own blog, helpfulnerd.com to help people with their computers. If my blog gets 1/4 the traffic you get I’ll be very happy. I collected all four themes and made them available through Mediafire. There is a download link at the bottom of my article. No junk, no crap, no adware, etc, just the four themes in one handy download.

    I hope you all enjoy. A big shout out to the Geek for making this article, the one that inspired me to write my own. I hope you don’t mind that I just plugged my site. I love your site and use it often, and I enjoy helping people with their computers too. We nerds and geeks are a community right? I takes all of us to help.

    Thanks
    Helpful Nerd

  38. Man

    Hi,
    I used this theme.
    Nice in XP.
    I am using still old CRT monitor and when i use the ClearType font in this, i don’t view my font better.
    What can i do for that?
    I have seen in my laptop that seen it very clearly.

  39. Swapnil

    I am a user of Linux and its very easy to switch between themes/styles without much increase in System resource consumption. With XP however its different. I have used WIndowsBlinds and couple of similar programs; each one ended up using System resources to an unacceptable level.

    Zune theme, dows not use any additional resources, and i found it great..!!

    Noir and rest stuff, really not upto the mark.

  40. Kristaps

    Im using Windows XP – wit good old classic the me just click right mouse on my computer – properties – advanced – and click circle in – adjust for better performance :) no need of any other stuff i have Ubuntu and Windows 7 to on paralell install – i have 1 000 errors for win xp but i cant live with it :) games, my video editing software all on win xp :)

  41. pigweeny

    There is one called ‘embedded’ and it is signed by microsoft. Type it into a search engine :)

  42. knowhow

    zune style is not the best theme ever it slows down my computer

  43. haha

    xp default is better…haha…

  44. Alex

    I’ve finally found it! I’ve been looking for years, to find this theme that my great aunt Mary Ann had, and i finally found it!

  45. Ecovoyageur

    Does anyone know how to modify / change / alter / customize the colors used in a theme? I’m not talking about the options you have in Display properties > Appearance > Advanced. Those options do not allow you to change the colors used for the taskbar and the active title bar (try it, you’ll see). So how do you go about changing those colors?

    I’m thinking there has to be a place somewhere in the windows registry where you can do this, but I’m no programer (althought pretty handy with windows) so I need some guidance here.

    In brief: I want to keep my theme as it is but I want to edit the colors used for the taskbar and the active title bar. I’m on Windows XP.

    Thanks for any help!

  46. Ecovoyageur

    …more on this:

    I have the Royale Noir theme installed. I modified it quite a bit but the windows XP GUI (Graphical user interface ) does not allow me to change active title and taskbar colors. My objective is to remove the gradient in those by either using one single color for both GradientActiveTitle and ActiveTitle OR find a way to deactivate the gradient. But I can’t figure out how to do this simple thing!

    How do you go about editing the colors in a theme when the changes you make in “Display properties > Appearance > Advanced” do not get applied?

    Registry tweek, script ?
    I did edit the registry under “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Colors” but it didn’t work.

    Thanks for any help.

  47. GOODNEWS

    I found another theme called embedded that was also done by WINDOWS!!

    here’s the link :http://www.askvg.com/download-new-official-embedded-theme-for-windows-xp-and-2003-no-file-patching-required/

  48. Christian

    windows xp theme

  49. YOURDAD

    does the zune theme slow down the computer at all just asking and if ya answer thank you for answering son on daughter xD

  50. mohammad

    that is good

  51. Hruaitluanga

    Zune Theme Is Nice Work Perfect for me!!
    One Problem is ” The Start Menu , Which is Orange in color”

  52. Hruaia

    Royale Media Center Style Theme is vey nice for me !!

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