Microsoft reveals new Windows 8.1 themes as part of Open Call project

Microsoft has mentioned its Open Call project before, which allows outside photographers a chance to submit desktop themes to the company for the chance to be chosen as official Windows 8/8.1 releases. This week, Microsoft released some new Open Call themes and also offered some information on how they are selected in the first place.

Microsoft's blog post reveals that the company gets thousands of themes submitted each year to its ongoing Open Call project. However, Microsoft picks just 5 percent of those submissions for posting on their official themes web page. There are quite a few requirements for any Open Call submission, not the least of which is that the images must be the original work of the author, whether they are photos or artwork. The images must be of high resolution and quality, and "should be dramatic, beautiful, interesting, or serene, not dull, depressing, or controversial."

The newest themes that have been added to Microsoft's gallery include one by Australian photographer Tracie Louise that shows locations in and around Queensland, shown above, along with another set of images that showcase a number of highly colorful birds.

Another new theme comes from California photographer Tom Mansfield. Titled Sierra Sunsets, it shows the sun going down behind pine trees and, if you look closely, the distant Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Photographer Nick Boyer, a veteran Open Call creator, actually has a sequel to a previous theme of his, Night and Dark, as a new entry. Night and Dark 2 has a variety of photographs that all have the same light and darkness motif. You can check out even more new Open Call theme submissions at the blog site.

Source: Microsoft | Images via Microsoft

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The pic with the sun going down is perfect for a dark theme all that is missing in that pic is the woman in front of the DEAD tree holding in her outstretched hand the core of a man.

Themes are pretty boring. I'd rather Microsoft allow third-party visual styles (OOTB without patching) or at least release some first-party visual styles.

Too much work, and could create issues between those who would change the visual style leaving others who use the computer confused, not to mention that some modders can screw up and cause real issues with the interface. I've had it happen to me before actually, of course that was more of an issue with Windows XP 64-bit. (which I don't recommend to anyone...)

Very little gain for Microsoft, aside from adding a whole slew of support issues regarding their OS. Trust me, I'd love it too, but I don't think it's practical or realistic in expecting them to support anything like that.

"The images must be of high resolution and quality, and 'should be dramatic, beautiful, interesting, or serene, not dull, depressing, or controversial.'"

You mean that they shouldn't be like some aspects of Metro?

Ian William said,
"The images must be of high resolution and quality, and 'should be dramatic, beautiful, interesting, or serene, not dull, depressing, or controversial.'"

You mean that they shouldn't be like ALL aspects of Metro?

FTFY

Just a couple weeks ago there was an article about a Microsoft competitor giving away free stuff but there were some problems. The general consensus was that you can't complain, it is free!

Microsoft gives away free stuff, and it is nothing but complaint after complaint. Good to see the Neowin community stay consistent.

yes typically anything with Microsoft in the tittle these days, regardless of what it is, always generates negative comments from idiots.

Well, for starters, you would have an excellent point if the people who were saying that you shouldn't complain about free stuff from Apple in the thread that you're referencing (read: http://www.neowin.net/news/app...ith-12-days-of-gifts-on-ios ) where in here complaining about free stuff from Microsoft, but they're not. They haven't even appeared in here yet. There were also people in there complaining about what Apple had to offer, so this must be another one of your preemptive strawman arguments.

Second, I guess it's good to know that Enron, .Neo, Denis W., and a few others represent the general consensus of Neowin's 300k+ members.

korupt_one said,
yes typically anything with Microsoft in the tittle these days, regardless of what it is, always generates negative comments from idiots.

So does just about every article with Sony, Apple, Google, or any other company not called Microsoft in the title...

I make a comment and as usual, Ben leaps from the shadows to show how obsessed with me he is.

And based upon the number of posts I see from some of those you listed, yes, I do think they represent this community. I also don't disagree with them, it was free, if youdont like it, don't download it.

OK, been a Microsoft fan since DOS 6.22, I even tried OSX and Android and came back to Windows and WP8. But seriously Microsoft? Wallpapers? Seriously? My Surface Pro 2 suffers from charging issue since the last faulty firmware update and they couldn't release a fix yet? I have no idea what's happening there, but seriously as if they are working on losing their users..

release the fix, open the damn Metro UI to developers, Stardock or whoever, let them redesign that mess. I am about to give up.

Wow, you must be having a bad day huh? Yeah, I'm ****ed that the fix isn't out yet, but in the meantime I have my Surface Pro 2 plugged in it's dock, using it in Modern mode (some great finger-friendly apps there, btw) and doing everything else on my 2nd monitor in desktop mode. What's not to like about that?? Ready to give up, sheesh, that's a bit much. The whole company isn't working on one thing y'know....

I really don't think the programmers that support the Surface are taking time out of their day to put together themes for Windows. I'm pretty sure the themes are done by completely different people.

Thrackerzod said,
I really don't think the programmers that support the Surface are taking time out of their day to put together themes for Windows. I'm pretty sure the themes are done by completely different people.

haha well said, these comments make me laugh every time i see them, i mean MS also (i assume) hires people to clean offices and make food, why the hell are these people not involved in getting this firmware fixed ey? What the hell MS!

Lord Method Man said,
Remember when themes were actual themes, and not just wallpaper packs?

go to google.com
search "nature" in images

ZOMG LOOK AT ALL THE THEMES /s

Lord Method Man said,
Remember when themes were actual themes, and not just wallpaper packs?

They still are, just because these submissions are missing the optional 'Cursors, Mouse Pointers, Screensavers', doesn't change the format of how they are released.

Create your own with crazy 70s sounds, draw your own cursors and submit it if you want to embrace what a theme is.

Mobius Enigma said,

They still are, just because these submissions are missing the optional 'Cursors, Mouse Pointers, Screensavers', doesn't change the format of how they are released.

Create your own with crazy 70s sounds, draw your own cursors and submit it if you want to embrace what a theme is.


themes used to actually change visual elements like window shape or start button, task bar height or notification tray separators , include different login layouts, add colour schemes that weren't available in XP, in addition to cursors and sounds you might have also got different start menu configurations from thin to icon only to full. you are supporting calling a group .jpgs themes??

Co_Co said,

themes used to actually change visual elements like window shape or start button, task bar height or notification tray separators , include different login layouts, add colour schemes that weren't available in XP, in addition to cursors and sounds you might have also got different start menu configurations from thin to icon only to full. you are supporting calling a group .jpgs themes??

Ah the good ol' days of customization.

Co_Co said,

themes used to actually change visual elements like window shape or start button, task bar height or notification tray separators , include different login layouts, add colour schemes that weren't available in XP, in addition to cursors and sounds you might have also got different start menu configurations from thin to icon only to full. you are supporting calling a group .jpgs themes??

they were also disgusting messes of visual vomit, the themes you describe

Co_Co said,

themes used to actually change visual elements like window shape or start button

When have official themes ever done this or Windows even allowed this? You need third party apps to modify the UI drastically.

duddit2 said,

they were also disgusting messes of visual vomit, the themes you describe

nice try troll, what themes did i describe.

i talked about the range of things that could be modified. XP was a visual mess of vomit fisher price colours and windows9x icons. go back into the forum archives here and see the many artistic themes forum members made here. those where the days when people had choice. when windows7 came we finally had beauty in windows

Romero said,

When have official themes ever done this or Windows even allowed this? You need third party apps to modify the UI drastically.


the royale, royale noir themes from MS changed look quite drastically, and Plus! packs back in the day included many additional items

Co_Co said,

the royale, royale noir themes from MS changed look quite drastically, and Plus! packs back in the day included many additional items

I've used all of these and don't remember any window shape or start button modification. MS has never officially supported these things and since you anyway needed 3rd party utils you can continue using them in Win8 too.

Edit: If my memory serves me right I'd hardly term the Royale theme family a "drastic" change - all they were were recolored less glassy versions of Luna.

Edited by Romero, Jan 13 2014, 6:45pm :

Co_Co said,

nice try troll, what themes did i describe.

i talked about the range of things that could be modified. XP was a visual mess of vomit fisher price colours and windows9x icons. go back into the forum archives here and see the many artistic themes forum members made here. those where the days when people had choice. when windows7 came we finally had beauty in windows

window shape, start button....etc etc.

The vast majority that did these kind of things were horrible and messy, correct you didn't describe individual themes but as I said my memory of these was mostly of horrible concoctions.

Noir for XP was ok, I liked that, but this was mainly a colour change and little else and looked a lot like the XP media centre theme.

Calling me a troll? bit harsh don't you think?

duddit2 said,
The vast majority that did these kind of things were horrible and messy, correct you didn't describe individual themes but as I said my memory of these was mostly of horrible concoctions.

Not to jump in the midst of you guys, but it depends on where you look. DeviantART had a few great people working on themes. Here's a couple I used over the years. I actually kind of miss them now.

http://amadme.deviantart.com/art/DAV5-44448273
NSFW (no nudity but still): http://lassekongo83.deviantart...lduin-Visual-Style-97248031

Actually, most of Lassekongo83's work is solid. I rotated between much of his work.

Some of the themes available lately are beautiful, i downloaded about 50 themepacks yesterday (for my mothers new computer) and she loves them.

i cant understand how anyone would desire to put a negative spin on this article, like someone above!

Oh, photos. Lovely. And how else could one have any photos at all for their computer than with such a generous help from Microsoft and these talented, awesome masters of their craft.

Phouchg said,
Oh, photos. Lovely. And how else could one have any photos at all for their computer than with such a generous help from Microsoft and these talented, awesome masters of their craft.

It's just a fun little innitiative to engage users with photography as hobby. It doesn't cost Microsoft a lot of money nor will it gain them much on the marketing side. It's just something to keep their user community engaged. Neowin blogs about just anything MS related they can get their hands on to generate traffic. It seems to work because every time they blog about a 'windows 8 theme' the haters come out of the woodwork.

Brony said,

Ferrari said the same to Ferrucio Lamborghini back in the 50's.



I can't imagine what themes we'll get from Dot Matrix in 20 years then!

This article tells us Microsoft will focus more on themes and visuals.
Perhaps Metro 2.0 will be more exciting for you along with these pictures?

Decebalvs Rex said,
This article tells us Microsoft will focus more on themes and visuals.
Perhaps Metro 2.0 will be more exciting for you along with these pictures?

this comment is priceless, because it shows that you believe that because MS has a small bunch of people accepting submissions for themes, they are somehow not putting effort into anything else.

because, you know, MS's 10 or so employees must be rushed off their feet with these submissions, how can they find the time for:

windows
windows phone
xbox and services
azure
server
exchange
sharepoint
dynamics
office
updates and security
lync
skype
surface
etc.

these guys must be overloaded like hell, with the theme submissions, jeez MS why cant you get these guys back on the real stuff ey?