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Microsoft opens Windows 7 to advertisers

Dolly Parton sings for IE 8

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Microsoft has cracked open Windows 7 to commercial sponsorship with desktop themes from advertisers.

The company Friday announced desktops from Ducati, Infiniti, Porsche, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Twentieth Century Fox under a pilot program that'll run until next October.

Microsoft also created its own Windows 7 themes for Xbox Gears of War, Zune, and Bing. You can check out the first crop of advertisers' themes here.

Microsoft said the themes will provide "a robust sponsorship opportunity" that'll extend to Windows 7 borders and sounds, gadgets and Internet Explorer 8 add-ons that ultimately send people to the advertiser's home page.

Microsoft is also touting ad space for companies on its MSN and Windows Live properties.

The company said in a statement the Windows themes would let consumers customize their technology "to reflect the things in life they are most passionate about" - as long as that's Porches, sugary fizzy drinks, and films. The announcement drew support from advertisers who spoke in terms of opportunities for their brands to engage with people.

Microsoft first touted the idea of ads in your software a few years back, and last month announced Office 2010 Starter Edition, a functionally limited version of the forthcoming Office 2010 that'll only be available pre-loaded on new PCs and be will funded by advertising.

Bootnote

Microsoft has recruited country-music queen Dolly Parton to promote IE 8 among the red-state, Opry-loving, web-surfing demographic. In a delightfully self-deprecating performance, Parton talks up Web Slices in the latest entry of her YouTube video diary.

Parton admits to not knowing a gigabyte from a snake bite, or that there were versions of IE 1 through 7. She signs off with a sly wink about needing to go check her email. Tip of the hat to ReadWriteWeb for spotting Parton, here. ®

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