I’ve been wanting to write an entry for this since I first received word over the weekend, but unfortunately free time isn’t always on my side; rather, it rarely is. There is a “secret” Windows XP theme circulating the Internet of late. Apparently during the development of the XP Media Center theme (Royale), Microsoft also produced a black version of the skin. It is purported that since the skin was never officially released there are some bugs in it, however I’ve had it activated for a few days now and have yet to experience any issues. For those questioning the validity of the skin, it has been signed by Microsoft and therefore does not require a custom UxTheme.dll.
Installing Royale Noir is remarkably simple, just download Royale Noir, extract the files contents to C:\WINDOWS\Resources\Themes\royalenoir or whatever else you want to cal the extracted folder, double-click luna.msstyles, select the “Noir” color scheme and voila!
While this hardly compares to the beautiful eye candy that is the linux desktop, it is a step in the right direction for Microsoft; away from the traditionally boring beveled look-and-feel of XP. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take years for the best theme of the upcoming Windows Vista to be released to the public.
Here is a screenshot of Royale Noir: