Introduced back in Windows XP, themes were the strongest customisation elements that any not-so-technically savvy user could add to his/her operating system. Themes modified every visual aspect of the OS, including the icons, the taskbar, the background wallpaper, the mouse cursor and sometimes even the boot or the lock screen. Those were the dangerous ones.
In Windows 8, the first baby steps were taken by DeviantArt, the ones that also developed the Aero Snapper and other interesting applications. The first themes arrived here and although they don't make such an impression, they help you change the Metro UI background colour.
The installation procedure is not so straight forward as in other Windows versions. You will have to manually download the themes and replace some files in the System32 folder. Some of them may only work for the 64-bit Windows 8 so be careful what you choose. At the moment, there are only a couple of themes, that change the Metro UI background colour to purple, gold, grey, blue and dark blue. More will appear soon so don't worry. Here is what you need to do:
1. Download one of the files below and save it on the desktop.
a. Purple [ZIP]
b. Gold (64-bit only) [RAR]
c. Dark Blue (64-bit only) [RAR]
d. Blue (64-bit only) [RAR]
2. Unzip the file, navigate to the compatible version and right-click on "takeownership.bat", then select "Run as administrator".
3. Navigate to "C:\Windows\System32\" and rename "uxtheme.dll" to "uxtheme.dll.old" and "shsxs.dll" to "shsxs.dll.old". This will help you get back to the normal style, whenever you want.
4.Now copy and replace the uxtheme.dll and shsxs.dll from the theme folder into System32.
5.Restart and the themes should be applied.
Whenever you want to revert to the classic view, delete the two files from System32 and change the names of the previously renamed files (during step 3) by removing the .old from the extension.
Those that want more than a simple colour-change in the Metro background, a software tool called Windows 8 Start Tweaker 1.01 [ZIP] has been compiled. Amongst its features, it allows you to add most image files and set them as wallpapers. The only problem comes with resolutions, because Metro UI stretches these images and they may look a bit odd. As an example, for those having a 1280x800 resolution, a picture with a minimum height of 1600 must be used for a decent view. The width doesn't matter that much.
The program is only compatible with the Windows 8 Developer Preview version, build 8102, and it basically does the same things as discussed in the first part of our guide. Do not try it on Windows 7 or other operating systems, as it may damage the System32 files.
All you have to do is download the application, unzip the file and run the executable. A menu like below will appear.
If you know of any other themes for Windows 8, please let us know by leaving a comment below.