As you may know, Windows 7 is available in six different editions: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. Of all these editions, Starter and Home Basic editions lack many features as well as personalization options.
If you’ve spent any significant amount of time with Home Basic or Starter edition of Windows 7, then you must know that these editions don’t support desktop theme packs. That is, one can’t download and install theme packs in Starter and Home Basic editions. In fact, the Personalization window is missing from both Starter and Home Basic editions.
While one can manually visit the official personalization page and download themes designed for Windows 7, you can’t install the downloaded theme. When you try to install the downloaded theme by double-clicking on the theme file, you get “This edition of Windows doesn’t support themes” error.
The best way to get all personalization and other essential feature is to upgrade to Home Premium or Professional edition (see how to upgrade Windows 7 editions and also how downgrade from Ultimate to Home Premium or professional). But if for some reason, don’t want to upgrade to Home Premium and want to install hundreds of available themes on your existing Home Basic or Starter edition, you need to either extract all theme files to get wallpapers and sound files, or use a third-party tool to install themes in Starter or Home Basic edition.
Users who would like to take the help of third-party tool can download a free tool named Personalization Panel. Personalization Panel is a free tool specially designed to help install themes in Starter and Home Basic editions of Windows 7. When you install this utility, it adds Personalization option to the desktop context menu (right-click menu). So, once installed, you get the Personalization window feature in your Starter and Home Basic editions as well.
Besides, Personalization Panel also lets you choose your own color for window borders and taskbar, just like in other editions of Windows 7.
Installing a theme file is simple, you don’t even need to open the Personalization panel. Simply double-click on the downloaded theme file to install and apply it.
Please note that the current version (v2.5) of Personalization Panel tool doesn’t support installing Windows 8 themes in Windows 7. If you’re on Home Premium or higher edition of Windows 7 and want to install themes specially designed for Windows 8, go through our how to install deskthemepack file in Windows 7 guide. How to create your own theme in Windows 8 guide might also interest you.
Users who don’t like to install Personalization Panel can use the portable version of the software to install themes.
Download Personalization Panel