Windows 7 is exciting for many reasons; one that inspires me is the ability to bring branded experiences elegantly to the desktop*. Marketers can easily create a Windows 7 Theme and offer it for download from their sites, and consumers can even share themes with each other. Additionally, Microsoft has worked with a number of brands to offer high quality theme experiences and host them within the official Windows 7 Personalization Gallery.
From the desktop, Windows 7 users can easily link to the online Personalization Gallery, securely download a theme, and then install it within seconds. To quote Yaser Khan, Program Manager on Themes, "Microsoft appreciates the passion consumers have for brands, so we created this one year pilot to understand consumer response and how brands can add value to a user's Windows 7 experience."
The work I am seeing so far is exciting. Infiniti is a great example, available today for Windows 7. Whether you own one of these amazing vehicles, or like me simply appreciate the sleek designs, with a few clicks you can have them rotating on your desktop. The gallery also includes themes for Porsche, with more on the way.
Cars not your thing? James Cameron's Sci-Fi thriller "Avatar" (Fox Studios) has built out a futuristic desktop theme and screensaver to reach their fans, in anticipation of the movie's upcoming release in December.
If marketers want to go further in connecting with their consumers outside of their website - and we are seeing this trend accelerate - they can work with us to create a Windows Theme Experience. It's a robust sponsorship platform that goes beyond Themes to include Windows Gadgets, Internet Explorer 8 Add-ons, feeds and desktop backgrounds. These Theme Experiences can be leveraged for marketing goals such as CRM, and can be promoted on the Microsoft Media Network.
For example, as an advertiser you can add an IE8 Web Slice (a dynamic "button" that displays on the IE8 taskbar) linking your customers to special content or information. A Web Slice is a great way to keep users connected to your most current content.
In addition, Themed Experiences can include specially designed desktop gadgets - small applications that sit on the desktop - that link consumers to custom content or web services. The result is an immersive, unified experience that builds brand affinity and drives consumers to a sponsor's targeted page. These themes are intended for a brand's most passionate fans, driving deeper engagement with PC experience.
Windows 7 is a great platform for any advertiser wishing to connect with their customers - it reaches beyond traditional advertising and builds a fresh relationship right from the consumer's desktop. Whether you're looking for a pure branding message that imbeds your persona directly within the consumer's desktop, or a full Windows Theme Experience, our partners have found this opportunity both powerful and unique. And Windows 7 makes it easy.
* For Windows 7 Premium Home editions and higher