HP and Stardock team up to ship netbooks with custom walls, themes

HP + Stardock = <3 Back in March, I wrote about how Microsoft was restricting wallpaper usage on their Starter SKU of Windows 7 – a version of Windows to be preloaded by OEMs onto netbooks. Nicholas R., mistakenly initially emailing Paul, noticed HP was somehow bypassing this restriction according to a bulleted claim on their Mini 110 netbook product page:

The unique ability to change the wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter: a specialized theme includes a custom screen saver and 15 wallpapers designed by Boontje.

How is this possible?

Upon clicking the Customize and Buy link on HP’s website, and clicking through the various customizable components, you’ll discover the included software bundle consisting of some simple applications and a copy of Stardock MyColors, designed for Windows 7. For those unaware, MyColors is simply a stripped down WindowBlinds application targeting the download-and-apply-my-theme users that don’t need the power (or cost) of WindowBlinds. The internals, however, are the same. As this software replaces the Microsoft Windows theming subsystem with its own, it completely bypasses any and all license restrictions imposed by Microsoft. (On the surface, this doesn’t feel very... legal. But I’m sure Microsoft green lighted this.)

(Slight addition [10/20]): MyColors also features some DesktopX and IconPackager code. Thanks for the note, Julien.

So there you go. An updated copy of MyColors for download should be available on or shortly after October 22, the same day Windows 7 officially launches.