Microsoft opens up Windows 7 to advertisers via downloadable themes

The same way that it already allows advertisers to buy placement on various Microsoft sites and properties, Microsoft may allow them to extend their brands onto Windows 7. The ads aren't being foisted on Windows 7 users. Those who don't want the advertiser-branded themes don't have to see them, as they're opt in.

The same way that it already allows advertisers to buy placement on various Microsoft sites and properties, Microsoft may allow them to extend their brands onto Windows 7.

The ads aren't being foisted on Windows 7 users. Those who don't want the branded themes don't have to see them, as they're opt in.

Microsoft announced on November 13 that it has begun test pilots with a handful of advertisers for ads on Windows 7. The two "theme experiences" they are offering are known as the "Windows Theme Experience" and the "Windows Personalization Gallery." The trial is set to run through October 2010.

Advertisers participating in the pilot include Ducati, Infiniti, Porsche and Twentieth Century Fox, according to a Microsoft press release.

Via the Windows Theme Experience pilot, advertisers are going to be able to put their brand on Internet Explorer 8 add-ons; Windows 7 and Windows Vista gadgets; Windows 7 backgrounds and borders and Windows "audio elements." Via the Windows Personalization Gallery pilot, advertisers will be able to push their brands "throughout the operation of their Windows 7-based PC including backgrounds, slide shows, borders and application audio elements."

Users will have to download the branded themes and elements from Microsoft's Windows Web site in order to add them to their PCs. Some of these branded themes and elements already are available for download, like the Ferrari theme, the Coca Cola "Happiness Factory" theme and the Porsche theme. They are available alongside of some of Microsoft's own brand themes -- such as the Gears of War theme, Bing screen shots theme and Zune characters theme.

"These new themes are intended for a brand's most passionate fans and allow for a deeper engagement by letting consumers embed their favorite brand into their PC experience," according to Microsoft.

I have to admit, I do like the Zune characters theme, but because I like the artwork in that theme pack, not because I want to tell the world that I'm a Zune fan. What about you? Are there branded themes you'd willing put on your PC -- either ones already in the gallery or ones you'd like to see added to it?