Engineering Windows 7

Welcome to our blog dedicated to the engineering of Microsoft Windows 7

A Little Bit of Personality

A Little Bit of Personality

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Greetings!  Based on the data we’re seeing we know a lot of folks on MSDN/TechNet/Connect are probably busy using the RC (Release Candidate) for Windows 7.  Thank you!!!  And of course many folks are looking forward to downloading the RC and using it as we expand the downloads—we’re looking forward to the participation and seeing the data that will help us validate the RC.  We’ve talked about making sure that you are “in control” of Windows 7 and one of the ways that people are in control of their PC is to personalize the experience.  With the RC you’re going to see some of the new personalization “elements” in Windows 7.  In this post, Denise Trabona and Samuel Moreau of our product design team provide a behind the scenes look at some of the work.  Be sure to check out the links below the images as you can see a lot more work by these talented artists.  Note, these are just thumbnails for this post so be sure to enjoy the full screen images in the RC.  --Steven

PS: Just a reminder, that just as with the pre-beta and beta we’ll be testing out Windows Update and the system for doing patches and updates.  So along with new drivers you might also see some other updates flowing through the system. 

One of the most exciting parts of engineering Windows 7 has been the wide variety of work that gets done over the course of a full product cycle. As evidenced by the variety of topics just in this blog, one can see that we are hard at work at all levels of the product. For fun, we thought folks might enjoy hearing some of the story behind the new personalization work in Windows 7.

As some folks have noticed, we are unveiling some new personalization content (wallpapers, glass colors and sounds schemes) in the RC build which allows people greater flexibility to personalize their experience. One thing we know is that Windows users love to express themselves by changing the desktop background and like many past releases, Windows 7 includes content in the box that allows you to begin customizing your experience immediately.

A picture speaks a thousand words

In developing the personalization features, we knew that we wanted great content for people to express their personal style. Because the desktop background is such a vibrant surface, we wanted to focus on providing quality content that demonstrated how creative people could be with this feature. When folks send us screenshots using the feedback button, we are regularly inspired by the rich diversity and personality of the wallpapers that people choose.

As we thought about how we wanted to approach personalization in Windows 7, we knew one way was to honor our lineage. In the past photography has been featured heavily Windows. Some of that photography has been quite beautiful and has become a proud tradition we wanted to maintain. In addition, we also wanted to explore new territory and expand our visual palette. In the realm of photography, we kept a theme focused on landscape photography which is our tradition, but added new themes for architecture and nature. Much of the this imagery is from our stock imagery partners, but we also had the good fortune to work with a talented local photographer named Will Austin, who has photographed all over the world on many subjects with an emphasis on architecture. Will’s photos provide a little bit of the local flavor of the Seattle area that we are proud to call home.



Raising the bar of inspiration and delight

With the photography covered, we tried to broaden our coverage to include additional images that would inspire, delight and invigorate people’s imaginations. We wanted to stretch into some new content that felt unique, timely, and with a distinct point of view. Our goal was content that balanced the timelessness of great photography with graphical illustrations that are energetic, modern, and fresh. On top of it all it was also important to achieve a rich variety in the illustrations to appeal to different tastes, genders and ages, color ranges from quiet to loud, and from large compositions to small and detailed.

Inspired by our neighbors in Zune, we worked with an agency called 72 and Sunny to search for illustrators around the world to create one-of-a-kind art work for you to have in Windows 7. In the process of looking through tons of samples, we sought a group of artists whose styles seemed both incredibly varied, to cover the broad diversity we were after, and maintained a common thread that we felt was applicable to the overall tone we were striving to achieve. Then began the fun part, with little more than some simple guiding words (light, energetic, inspiring, optimistic, etc.), the artists went off with a blank canvas to create concept sketches of their original pieces.

Iterate and refine

We still remember the first chance we got to review the artist’s initial sketches and concept work, and right from that moment, we knew that these images were going to be a lot of fun. The next step was to iterate back and forth a few times to make sure certain goals were achieved and get little details just right. For example, a couple of things that were important to us were how the image flowed under the new task bar and striking the right balance between visually compelling, and not too distracting when it came to finding that important file on your desktop. It’s tricky to find the right balance and we were fortunate to have an amazingly talented set of artists and our friends at 72 and Sunny to work with on this project.

Windows is for the whole world

Finally, we wanted to recognize the global audience of Windows by seeking out illustrators with varied backgrounds and styles with the intention of representing and appealing to people all around the world.

With that, we are honored to introduce the amazingly talented artists and the work that they contributed to Windows 7 personalization.




Yuko Kondo
From Japan, now resides in London, England



Katharina Leuzinger
Born to Swiss and Japanese parents in Zurich, Switzerland, Katharina Leuzinger now resides in London, England


Osmand Nosse
Wicklow, Ireland


Klaus Haapaniemi
From Finland, now based in London, England


Chris Sickles of Red Nose Studios
Indiana, United States


Buenos Aires, Argentina


Pomme Chan
Born and educated in Bangkok, Pomme Chan now resides in London, England.


Kustaa Saksi
Amsterdam, Netherlands







Paul Hwang and Benjamin Lee of Nanosphere
Los Angeles, California


Adhemas Batista
From Sao Paulo Brazil, now resides in Los Angeles, California


Kai and Sunny
London, England


Nan Na Hvass
Born to a Danish father and Chinese mother in Swaziland, Africa, Nan Na Hvass now resides in Copenhagen, Denmark.

We hope this post has given you some insight into the Windows 7 content. We also hope that we achieved the goals we set out for ourselves with this element of Windows 7.

-Denise Trabona and Samuel Moreau

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  • i am really trying hard to understand, how did MS accept this kind of works for their OS?

    the illustrations look "too inspired", rather like what freakish artists do when they are high on something.

    it may be a very avant-garde move by MS, but i doubt ANOYONE WOULD USE THOSE AS A WALLPAPER. Have you thought that?

  • Well, since Windows 7 will be distributed into a DVD (thus you 'll have much free space to use), why don't you put MANY wallpapers (including those presented here - I'm sure some people will use them - and the ones from Vista+XP collection), so that the user can choose from.

  • Generally, I like to use wallpapers that are simple (not too many colors and usually close to uniform) so that I don't loose my icons in it...

    And don't forget to fix this:

    Good luck with the Win7 release.

  • Don't forget to fix this too:

  • Come on, the new wall papers are childish. Stop pleasing the little kids who have no right to be on the computer in the first place.

  • Be sure to check out the links below the images as you can see a lot more work by these talented artists.

  • Finally, look how much better the Win7 TreeViews would look if they had a few lines:

  • We've also done work to listen and add some of the elements that have been discussed.  

  • Then began the fun part, with little more than some simple guiding words (light, energetic, inspiring, optimistic, etc.), the artists went off with a blank canvas to create concept sketches of their original pieces.

  • As we thought about how we wanted to approach personalization in Windows 7, we knew one way was to honor our lineage.

  • When i open my personalisation window in my windows7 it says the page is not available in your edition of windows and you must do windows anytime upgrade but i have windows 7 ultimate and it has personalisation what do i do???

  • Speaking of Will Austin: we just published a very cool interview with him about his work on Windows 7.

    You can all find it here:

  • Ok I know it is a little bit late for suggestion but please please wouldn't it be awesome to have a background featuring the Windows OS-Tan ( ?? With of course Seven-Tan in front :) and in the background the previous version of windows.

    I'm serious : it will add a lot of personality to Seven, and people will love it just because the OS-tan are so cute :) Think of all the positive hype if you include such a wallpaper ! People starting to create fan art etc ...

    the biggest nerd in the world

  • windows 7 is an all around better os

  • Sorry pepkaro but you totally miss the point. Focus should not be in the control of ANY program. Just like cooperative multitasking failed, it is a dumb idea. Even a UAC prompt should not steal focus. It should wait until it is addressed. The user should decide what they focus on.

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