In a rather telling move, Microsoft has for the first time ever, allowed third parties to produce themes for the company's flagship operating system, Windows 7, thanks to a new scheme called "Windows 7 Theme Experiences".
Companies like Pepsi, Coca Cola, Ferrari, Infiniti or Twentieth Century Fox have been given unprecedented access to the Windows 7 desktop in an apparent bid by Microsoft to lure advertising money and help global brand names "connect with consumers".
Darren Huston, corporate vice president of the company's consumer and online group, said in a statement that "The new Windows Theme Experience and Windows Personalization Gallery in Windows 7 allow consumers to customize their technology to reflect the things in life they are most passionate about."
Microsoft has also confirmed that selected companies will be able to add their logos to Windows 7 and Vista gadgets as well as IE8 add-ons and themes packages that includes backgrounds (and nothing much). The company has been quick to point out that the whole trial - which runs until October 2010 - will be optional.
If successful, the pilot scheme could pave the way for more in-application elements and integrated advertising solutions. Last week, Google purchased Admob, a company which amongst other things, produces adverts that blend with smartphone applications.
Microsoft has also announced earlier in October 2009 that it will be replacing its ageing Works suite with Office Starter 2010, an application suite that will be supported by adverts.
The Personalization Gallery can be found here (opens in new tab).
Two questions that many observers will be asking following Microsoft's move. Will there be a backlash against Microsoft and/or the companies that are in the pilot trial. Will users gain anything from using branded themes and applications, other than aesthetics.