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HP's End-Run Around the Windows 7 Starter Limitations

As you must know by now, Microsoft has severely limited the ways in which you can customized its lowest-end Windows 7 version, Windows Starter Edition. (See Windows 7 Starter? That's How They Get You for more information.) The worst of these limitations, of course, is that users cannot customize the desktop wallpaper. Instead, they're stuck with what Microsoft provides: A single background image.

Today, Rafael posts about an HP netbook that appears to get around this limitation. How they do it is interesting. Lame. But interesting.

Nicholas R., initially emailing Paul, noticed HP was somehow bypassing this restriction according to a bulleted claim on their Mini 110 netbook product page:

The unique ability to change the wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter: a specialized theme includes a custom screen saver and 15 wallpapers designed by Boontje.

How is this possible?

Upon clicking the Customize and Buy link on HP’s website, and clicking through the various customizable components, you’ll discover the included software bundle consisting of some simple applications and a copy of Stardock MyColors, designed for Windows 7. For those unaware, MyColors is simply a stripped down WindowBlinds application targeting the download-and-apply-my-theme users that don’t need the power (or cost) of WindowBlinds. The internals, however, are the same. As this software replaces the Microsoft Windows theming subsystem with its own, it completely bypasses any and all license restrictions imposed by Microsoft.

So is it legal? You have to think HP, a major league Microsoft partner, got the OK from the software giant.

I mean. They must have. Right?

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