Surprise: You can’t change your wallpaper in Starter Edition

Paint brush is sad :( On Friday, another Windows 7 TAP-delivered build leaked, this time only about a week old numbered 7068. While Paul Thurrott was loading all the SKUs on his various machines peppered around his house, he tipped me off to the fact that in Windows 7 Starter Edition – the SKU slated for the netbook market – has been gutted of its desktop personalization controls.

Now, look. I’m all for gutting premium features to lighten Windows footprint and price but this is ridiculous. Why the regression? At this point, you may get more functionality out of an OLPC laptop.

As for the technical side, a new licensing bit was introduced – ChangeDesktopBackground-Enabled. On Starter Edition SKUs, this bit is set to 0, disabling background setting capabilities in Windows Photo Viewer and the Display/Theme Control Panel applets. The infection goes deeper into system files shell32.dll and themeui.dll too, hard-coding the wallpaper to %windir%webwallpaperwindowsimg0.jpg.

Workarounds:

  • As an Administrator, reset the permissions on img0.jpg, and overwrite file with picture of Mom.
  • Use third-party software (note: changes will likely not persist, untested)

Here’s a screenshot I shamelessly lifted from Paul’s Windows 7068 Starter Edition Screenshot Gallery:

NOTE: Betta fish will not survive prolonged exposure to gray water.