If you know me, you know I can go a little Clark Griswold this time of year. I love the holidays and spreading a little Christmas cheer. So here are a few of my favorite downloads, dusted off and repackaged for Windows 7. With apologies to my friends in the southern hemisphere, I’m keeping the Winter Fun Pack naming convention ;). So this year I’m super-sizing my blog post on fun PC projects with features that are simplified by Windows 7. Please note that this is not an official release from Microsoft, rather something I like to do for fun. So here goes:
#1 NEW: Add a Winter Desktop Theme to Windows 7
This combination of Winter wallpapers and sound effects are sure to warm your heart and will be familiar to those who installed the Windows XP Winter Fun Pack back in 2003 as this is a re-release, simplified by Windows 7. I tried to take care not to overdo with the sound effects but you’ll find a few little additions I think you’ll enjoy. To install, just run the .themepack file on your Windows 7 desktop. The wallpapers are set to change every 30 minutes, but feel free to choose your own.
Download Winter Desktop Theme for Windows 7 via Skydrive (5MB):
#2 Add a Yule Log Visualization for Windows Media Player to Windows 7
This was one of my favorites and the good news is that it’s been tested and works great with Windows 7. Watch as the Yule log flares along to your favorite holiday music in Windows Media Player. A bit of trivia – we commissioned Frog Design to create this back in 2003, inspired by years of the 24 hour Yule Log on WPIX 11 in New York on Christmas Eve/Day. Little did we know then what a classic it would become.
Download Yule Log Viz for Windows Media Player via Skydrive (1.9MB)
#3 Quickly get to Holiday Autoplaylists with Windows 7
Another oldie but goodie – unzip these playlists to your default folder (e.g. My Music) and Windows Media Player will create playlists based on holiday music in your library. Not only good for finding the music based on common keywords, but also for removing those tracks from your library after the holidays. In music mixology, nothing is worse than “Jingle Bells” in the middle of a 4th of July party. You’ll find playlist selections including “All”, “Fresh Tracks” for music added in last 7 days, “One Audio CD Worth” and “One Data CD-R Worth” in the mix for holidays of multiple denominations. To install, just unzip into your My Music\Playlists folder.
Download WMP Holiday Autoplaylists via Skydrive (15.5KB)
#4: Create a Holiday Trivia Slideshow with Windows Media Center and Windows 7
A few years back, I built a pack of trivia questions as slideshow images that could be used as a slideshow on Xbox 360 or Windows Media Center. Organization is now simplified with the Slideshow creator built into the Windows 7 Media Center – Pictures feature – just pick your Pictures, add the trivia questions and music, and you’re set for your next holiday party. Trust me, friends will ask how you did it. You can learn more here at my original post.
Download Christmas Trivia Pack #1 (.zip, 3MB)
Except for the Desktop Theme, most if not all of the above should work on earlier versions (XP, Vista) but some of the features are easier/more intuitive on Windows 7. In the coming week, I’ll post additional clips here as well as my own How To for a cool Holiday outdoor display I’m doing this year created with Windows Live Movie Maker and powered by Windows 7.
If you like the Holiday add-ons, please let me know in comments here and tell your friends. Happy Holidays everyone!