Bright Side of News spotted that Microsoft has started to give companies the opportunity to create new themes for Windows 7 and publish their themes as highlighted ones. The site believes this in-OS advertising service may turn into a cash-cow and that it could help towards making Windows free.
On official Personalization Gallery page, a new section titled Windows 7 themes opened up with sponsored themes featuring motion picture Avatar, Coca-Cola, Ducati, Ferrari, Infinity, Pepsi, Porsche… all alongside Microsoft sponsored themes such as Bing's Best, Gears of War, Zune and many more. We have checked some of the themes and they're really impressive, but some are just a re-hash of all already existing content. Still, it is a start of competition among featured companies as well, since the highest rated/downloaded applications warrant as large exposure as possible.
The sponsoring deal lasts for full 12 months, expiring on November 1, 2010 after which companies involved in the scheme will either prolong their contracts or be replaced by new ones. In the past, there weren't any problems if you wanted to create own version of Internet Explorer, for instance "Microsoft Internet Explorer powered by Company XY" and even change the loading icon with your own animated image but it looks the company decided to turn that feature into a cash-cow.