With Windows 7, Microsoft has vastly simplified the process of applying new themes. However, dealing with 3rd party visual styles is still a hassle. Yes, you can apply them by just double clicking on the *.theme file. However, if you want it to appear in the Windows Personalisation center, you will have to manually copy/extract it to the C:\Windows\Resources\Themes directory. Moreover, just like in XP and Vista, 3rd party visual styles (i.e. themes which do a bit more than just changing wallpapers and the glass colour) can’t be installed unless you patch your system.
Many of these visual styles also contain modded system files, which are used for changing the Start Menu orb (explorer.exe), navigational buttons (explorerframe.exe) etc. Manually backingup and replacing system files is just too much work for most users. Thankfully there is a better solution and it doesn’t involve shelling out money.
TheWindowsClub has released an excellent utility called Windows Theme Installer (WTI). This utility basically takes care of every aspect of Windows Vista and Windows 7 visual style and theme installation. You can select an installed theme (i.e. themes present in the C:\Windows\Resources\Themes directory) or manually browse to the location of the *.theme file and have WTI install it for you. Replacing system files is also as simple as specifying the path to the modded files and clicking on ‘Install theme’. If you wish to restore the original files later on, you can do so through the Restore Default System Files option.
Windows Theme Installer makes getting an all new user interface really simple. If you are into modding your desktop, then this free portable app is a must have for you.
Download Windows Themes Installer (147 KB)
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Operating System: Windows Vista/7