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A client has asked if I could develop a dynamic theme for Windows 7 for them. I see from the Windows 7 themes gallery that this sort of thing is possible, but I cannot see any documentation about creating these.

How is it done? If anyone knows how to get listed in the theme gallery as well, it would be appreciated.

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2 Answers 2

As far as Microsoft themes go: Microsoft quietly ends support for Windows 7 dynamic themes.

While dynamic themes are no longer available from Microsoft, Windows 7 and 8 users can still get a new desktop background delivered to them every day by downloading and installing the company's Bing Desktop program. The application automatically updates the background with the same high resolution image that's put in place each day on the Bing.com homepage.

The Bing Desktop is also now available from Windows Update.

On the other hand : Microsoft brings back retired dynamic theme photos in new Windows 8 themes.

But if you wish to develop your own dynamic RSS-fed theme, the article Dynamic Desktop Wallpapers from RSS Feeds says:

if you want to make your own theme with pictures off the Internet, just copy the following text, paste it into Notepad, and change the 3 areas delimited with "<<<<<" and ">>>>>" (the Display Name is what shows up in the Theme control panel as the name for the theme). The RSS feed at the bottom must have the pictures as enclosure.

; Copyright © <<<<<Microsoft Corp.>>>>>

[Theme]
; Windows 7 - IDS_THEME_DISPLAYNAME_AERO
DisplayName=<<<<<Bing Dynamic>>>>>

; Computer - SHIDI_SERVER
[CLSID\{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}\DefaultIcon]
DefaultValue=%SystemRoot%\System32\imageres.dll,-109

; UsersFiles - SHIDI_USERFILES
[CLSID\{59031A47-3F72-44A7-89C5-5595FE6B30EE}\DefaultIcon]
DefaultValue=%SystemRoot%\System32\imageres.dll,-123

; Network - SHIDI_MYNETWORK
[CLSID\{F02C1A0D-BE21-4350-88B0-7367FC96EF3C}\DefaultIcon]
DefaultValue=%SystemRoot%\System32\imageres.dll,-25

; Recycle Bin - SHIDI_RECYCLERFULL SHIDI_RECYCLER
[CLSID\{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}\DefaultIcon]
Full=%SystemRoot%\System32\imageres.dll,-54
Empty=%SystemRoot%\System32\imageres.dll,-55

[Control Panel\Cursors]
AppStarting=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_working.ani
Arrow=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_arrow.cur
Hand=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_link.cur
Help=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_helpsel.cur
No=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_unavail.cur
NWPen=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_pen.cur
SizeAll=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_move.cur
SizeNESW=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_nesw.cur
SizeNS=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_ns.cur
SizeNWSE=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_nwse.cur
SizeWE=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_ew.cur
UpArrow=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_up.cur
Wait=%SystemRoot%\cursors\aero_busy.ani
DefaultValue=Windows Aero

[Sounds]
; IDS_SCHEME_DEFAULT
SchemeName=Windows Default

[Control Panel\Desktop]
TileWallpaper=0
WallpaperStyle=10
Pattern=

[VisualStyles]
Path=%SystemRoot%\resources\themes\Aero\Aero.msstyles
ColorStyle=NormalColor
Size=NormalSize
ColorizationColor=0X45409EFE
Transparency=1
VisualStyleVersion=10
Composition=1

[MasterThemeSelector]
MTSM=DABJDKT

[Slideshow]
Interval=20000
Shuffle=1
RSSFeed=<<<<<http://themeserver.microsoft.com/default.aspx?p=Bing&c=Desktop&m=en-US>>>>>
[boot]
SCRNSAVE.EXE= 

Save the file with an extension of .theme. Double-click it, confirm that you want to download attachments, and it will install itself and start downloading pictures as your desktop background.

Apply theme - Subscribe to RSS Feed?

Once the pictures are downloaded, you can go in and choose how often they cycle, change how they are displayed (cropped, filled, stretched, etc)

For a similar approach that might have some more information, see :
How do I use RSS to create a dynamic Windows 7 desktop wallpaper slideshow.
This article uses the aero.theme file as the base file to edit.

For information about enclosures, see :

Why are images not working in my RSS campaign?
Wikipedia - RSS enclosure

Here is an example of a fictional RSS feed containing enclosures :

<rss version="2.0">
   <channel>
      <title>title here</title>
      <description>description here</title>
      <link>http://somwhere/somefeeds</link>
      <item>
         <title>title item 1</title>
         <description>description item 1</description>
         <enclosure url="http://somwhere/file1.jpg" length="23456" type="image/jpeg"/>
      </item>
      <item>
         <title>title item 2</title>
         <description>description item 2</description>
         <enclosure url="http://somwhere/file2.jpg" length="12345" type="image/jpeg"/>
      </item>
   </channel>
</rss>
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This is my problem: "if you want to make your own theme with pictures off the Internet, just copy the following text, paste it into Notepad, and change the 3 areas delimited with "<<<<<" and ">>>>>" (the Display Name is what shows up in the Theme control panel as the name for the theme). The RSS feed at the bottom must have the pictures as enclosure." ||| "Have the picture as enclosure." As a what? I tried to find a sample RSS, but nothing came up. What exactly do they mean if standard RSS and even mimicked Flickr RSS fails? –  Shiki Jun 24 '14 at 11:23
    
Enclosures are explained, for example, in Why are images not working in my RSS campaign?. See also wikipedia. Non-conform RSS feeds are unusable. –  harrymc Jun 24 '14 at 12:09
    
Thank you. .... –  Shiki Jun 24 '14 at 22:15

There is an article here on the Microsoft website that explains how to create Themes, Save them and share them with friends and family, it says you need to save it as a .themepack file to allow sharing.

You can then save it on your network in a shared location for other people to use, but if you are meaning to put them on the web to be viewed globally then I'm unsure of how it works.

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1  
This explains just how to make a simple "Theme". Says nothing about the feed itself, which is neccessary for the Dynamic Theme feature to work. –  Shiki Jun 23 '14 at 16:51
    
Ah I'll do a little more digging –  Nathan Taylor Jun 24 '14 at 8:17

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