Windows 8 panoramic backgrounds themes explained

The launch of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview version last week introduced the public to a number of new features that had not been seen before in previous Windows releases. One of them is purely for visual pleasure but also very cool; it's the ability to take a desktop wallpaper and have it stretched so that one theme is shown on two monitors.

The official Windows Experience blog offers up more information on these new panoramic themes. These kinds of background can only be used on a PC running Windows 8; they will not work on a Windows 7 PC set up. On the other hand a Windows 7 background can be used on a Windows 8 PC; it simply won't stretch to encompass two monitors. You can check out two Windows 8 panoramic backgrounds, Nightfall and Starlight, at the Windows Downloads web site.

The blog also points out that if you have a Windows 8 theme with the auto color setting, you can "smoothly and automatically shift the Windows desktop glass and taskbar color to match the dominant color in whichever background image is currently being displayed."

Finally, if you have two monitors running Windows 8, you can also set up a different Windows 7-based background on each monitor. In Windows 7, you could only use the same background with two monitors.

Image via Microsoft

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15 Comments

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The panoramic view works the same way it did in windows 7. You have to set it to tile. The only real difference is that the second monitor will show a different image if you set it to anything else. This actually screws with the color changing option because the color will only match the first monitor.

...that's how it's working on my windows 8 install anyway. This theme just seems to have large images that will fill both screens?

...it might be because my two resolutions are different.

Saying that this theme will only work correctly on a windows 8 setup is wrong.

Edited by Ned, Mar 8 2012, 9:15pm :

If you right click on an image when choosing your desktop background in personalize you can choose which monitor it will show on. Is that new?

edit: span...got it working.

Edited by Ned, Mar 8 2012, 10:17pm :

Axel said,
Does this scale based on whether on of the monitors is portrait? Can anyone confirm?

If the image is of the correct aspect ratio, yes.

MS has done a fabulous job with their themes. Time and again, there have absolutely stunning and gorgeous themes released.

xpclient said,
MS has done a fabulous job with their themes. Time and again, there have absolutely stunning and gorgeous themes released.

I agree again Metro Theme is so backwards. Looks washed out and terrible on high resolution.

techguy77 said,

I agree again Metro Theme is so backwards. Looks washed out and terrible on high resolution.


That poor dead horse...

I wish they would enable a built-in option to have a wallpaper-style image as the backdrop for the Start screen (I know they mentioned issues around scaling etc). iOS handles this just fine in that when you scroll from screen to screen the image stays static behind. This may not comply with the Metro design philosophy, but then it doesn't have to be the default.

singularity87 said,
I wish they would enable a built-in option to have a wallpaper-style image as the backdrop for the Start screen (I know they mentioned issues around scaling etc). iOS handles this just fine in that when you scroll from screen to screen the image stays static behind. This may not comply with the Metro design philosophy, but then it doesn't have to be the default.

The metro background isn't static at all, and needs to have specific dimensions, if you scroll you will notice that the background slightly moves, ofcrouse it moves less than the tiles, yet...

It wouldn't surprise me actually if there aren't plans for Microsoft and OEMs to release add-on Metro themesets, that may be another reason it's locked down.

Also they are probably wary of the people who choose horrifically poor quality images etc (I have seen people trying to use small GIFs from web sites enlarged as their wallpaper) and spoil other users impression of Windows 8.

At the moment I'm really averse to it, but then the same was true of Vista in development and a few months after release I switched, and was basically as happy as I have been with 7. I remember really disliking that Microsoft enforced a glass taskbar in 7 if transparency is enabled rather than transparency going on maximisation like in Vista (despite liking the superbar otherwise), now I wouldn't have it any other way. The same will probably be true of this.

jamieakers said,
Just rename the file extension to .CAB and extract the JPG images. then set them to be the wallpaper on Windows 7 ... voila!

Last time I try to rename themepack file to .zip and able to extract the wallpapers inside it using WinRAR

Eins.MY said,

Last time I try to rename themepack file to .zip and able to extract the wallpapers inside it using WinRAR


Generally speaking, you don't even need to rename extensions to do this sort of thing. Most applications will figure it out on their own.

A tool like Ultramon lets you add separate backgrounds for each screen Shame that Microsoft doesn't allow the actual images to be downloaded because I don't know how you extract a .deskthemepack