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User Interface Themes

One new feature in the user experience provided by Windows Server 2003 is in the themes available for the user desktop. What is a theme? A theme is a collection of user environment configuration settings (wallpaper, desktop icons, menu styles, sounds, and so on) used to give a cohesive desktop appearance. It is a collection of all the individual settings you could manually change yourself, but it puts all those setting in one place. All the settings have the same theme, making it much easier to give your desktop a complete overhaul yet maintain a consistent appearance. Windows Server 2003, however, doesn't really have any themes. For the longest time, administrators have been admonished not to run resource-intensive desktops and screensavers, such as OpenGL (those are the fancy screensavers like Pipes that use up a lot of processor power). Many times the administrators' response was, "If we're not supposed to use it, why is it an option?" Well, now it's not—at least not by default. Although Windows Server 2003 supports themes, only one theme, Windows Classic, is actually included in the product. Also, only three screensavers (Blank, Marquee, and Windows) are included—none of which are resource intensive. There are, however, a few new desktop wallpapers—the same visually stimulating wallpapers available in Windows XP.

Although Windows Server 2003 includes only one theme, it does have a new method for making it easier to obtain and install your own themes. It has an option to connect to Microsoft's Web site to download themes online. However, the only currently available themes on Microsoft's site are those included with Microsoft Plus! for Windows XP.

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