Unlike the paltry number of themes which were released by Microsoft for Windows XP, and later quickly hidden away like spoiled Easter eggs on Easter morning, Microsoft has seen fit to continue to expand the number of themes available to the user base.

That makes people like me very happy.

Though I’m still not convinced that Windows 7 is the best Windows version ever, I do love the copious amounts of eye candy which are available to everyone but the poor folks saddled with the Starter Edition – they can be used in Home Basic with the appropriate hack. Anyone having a video card with the least bit of 3-D capability (You’d think that would be everyone these days, but not exactly so.) has the ability to have a wondrous desktop which can change almost as often as they wish.

I thought I had been keeping up with the releases of themepacks which have been released, but I have missed those released since the first of the year. Thankfully, Microsoft does not hide them away, and all the previous released ones are still in the same place, ready for those not keeping up to download them.

Just in the last two months there are some really fine packages available, including some classified  (Yes, Microsoft even has taken the time to classify the themepacks, so that you can quickly assess what it is you want!) as Animals, Art and Entertainment, Automotive, Branded Themes, Holidays and Seasons, Nature, and Places and Landscapes.

Alan Wake  a theme based upon the game, and including several wallpapers at 1920 x 1080 resolution

Arctic  a theme that includes much of the flora and fauna of the Arctic, really nice if you’ve ever visited Alaska or Canada, as I have

Antarctic a theme much like the Arctic themepack, but with the emphasis on more barren nature of the area, and, of course, varieties of penguins

Best of Bing 5 a theme including lots of images from around the world, featured on Bing as backgrounds, but at higher resolution

Best of Bing China many more scenes not included in the China themepack, and also from Bing China, at higher than normal resolution

along with those 5 are Fireworks (fireworks at New Years all around the world), Halo Reach Art, Harry Potter, Japan New Year, Lovebirds, Narnia Dawn Treader, Rango (for the upcoming animated movie), Snow Angels, Snow Sports, Winter, Year of the Rabbit, and Super Lucky Year Of The Rabbit.

That’s 17 new (and in my opinion, very worthwhile) themepacks since January 1, which shows me that Microsoft will be supporting this effort for some time. No more searches for hidden and arcane themes which were never in wide release, and withdrawn from being easily accessed.

Overall, I count 129 themepacks, in 7 categories, which can be downloaded and installed easily, asking only a bit of your drive space in exchange.

Try a few of them, you’ll be surprised how nice they are, and how much it can change your overall Windows experience.

I have settle on the Antarctic themepack right now, and it is beautiful and fun, though I might change back to Arctic later today, just because of the animals included that I have seen in real life in my travels in the 49th state. The only small nit I have to pick with any of these theme packs is that almost none come with a dedicated screen saver. Having a really nice screen saver which ties in would be the finishing touch on these – but don’t get me wrong here, this entire piece is in praise of the new and continuing effort from Microsoft for the beautification of the Windows desktop.