You can do a lot more than simply changing your background and Screensaver in Windows Vista. Unfortunately you'll need some 3rd party applications to do it. Microsoft decided nearly a decade ago that to protect its brand's image and avoid issues with custom themes applied to Windows, all Windows themes must be signed by Microsoft.
It's not really a great selection and probably more the once you've wished you could give your desktop a nice new look. Luckily there is a way to get free 3rd party themes in Vista (and XP), although you'll need to patch your system using a free tool called Vista Glazz. Once you've downloaded it's as simple starting it up and pushing a button. You'll need a reboot and then you should be able to install new themes.
Update: VistaGlazz is no longer available. We have uploaded the latest release version to our own download server. Please note that we don't support it in any way, and that we have done so for archiving purposes only. You can download it with a click on the following link: Vista Glazz
For other changes you can use Vista Visual Master which is a great little application and can change icons, the boot screen and a number of other elements.
The best place to find Vista skins is of course on Deviant Art where you'll find just about everything graphic related, although it may take you some time to sift through it all to find something you like. Icons, themes, Screensavers, wallpapers, screenshots... it's all here.
For wallpaper images I suggest Social Wallpapering as maybe the best online resource for high resolution desktop images. It also has a voting system which is a good way to keep the standard of images high. Desktopography is a showcase of some of the greatest Photoshop artists and has an annual gallery, some of the images here are amazing, well worth checking out. You can find a few more at Customize.org which also has some good archives of images.
If you know of any other good resources sound off in the comments below.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.