Sunday, January 14, 2007

Windows XP Zune Theme Crashed!

I wasn't even going to blog about this.

In the grand-scheme of pc didn't even really phase me one bit.

But know those hunches I get...

I've been running Microsoft's new Zune theme for XP for a while now. I love the glassy-black look and the (orange?) Start button. It seems a bit more classy to me than the default Luna themes packaged with XP.

I haven't had any issues or has been rock-stable...until Friday.

See Friday I did some PC housecleaning and deleted quite a number of old graphic manipulation software, some clip-art programs, some pc games, etc. that we never use any more. In the end I reclaimed almost 6 GB of space on my C: partition. Not bad.

Then I did a free-space wipe and ran a defragmentation on the partition.

So far, so good. I didn't do any malware/spyware cleaning nor did I mess around with cleaning the registry this time.

So when I did a final reboot imagine my surprise to see a bizarre Ansel Adams like "Classic" theme. It was a pure black and white, Windows 2000'ish look. It looked like something Frankenstein cobbled together.

Hmmm. That was unexpected.

So I went into the desktop properties and it was still reporting to be using the Zune theme.

So I reapplied it and rebooted. No change, in fact, my Start menu seemed to look worse. Changing the property settings to switch between the XP and "Classic" view options didn't help.

My initial troubleshooting response was to do a damage assessment and see just what was broken with the XP themeing.

So I switched from the Zune theme to the default "Luna" theme. Amazingly, the normal blue/green default XP theme popped right back and everything was looking normal again.


So (since I tend to archive my setup files) I dug out the ZuneDesktop Theme.msi file. I right-clicked on it and selected the "Repair" option. It did its thing without complaint.

Next I did a reboot (just for good measure) and then switched back to the Zune theme. It applied and came back...just like always. The black/white classic look was gone.

I had a little bit of housecleaning/tweaking to do to put all my little elements back like I like from the default XP theme setting, but it didn't take too long to do.

I figured that in uninstalling all those programs, I may have accidentally deleted a shared .dll file (I usually leave them when prompted during an uninstall process). This seemed to make a little sense since a few graphic applications interface with the display settings for color matching and the like.

Except the next day (Zune theme still happy again) I wondered if anyone else had run into this. I've never had a Microsoft theme bomb out on me like that.

Imagine my surprise to find these two related posts:

Zune Desktop Theme - A Warning --via Miscellaneous Debris blog

Is there something rotten in Windows XP theme-land? --via jkOnTheRun blog

Both posters, and some commenters have also ran into a Zune theme crashing problem.

One hypothesis is that recent Microsoft patches may have broken something. I'm not sure. I use it on my XP Pro notebook system at work and it hasn't burped yet..patches and all. And I've been running on the latest patches for some time before it "burped."

Just for kicks, I downloaded the Zune msi file again and it still has the same MD5 hash as my original no changes have been made by Microsoft on the file, yet.

I'm not sure what to think. I'm running Zune theme fine and stable again several days after my experience. Maybe it was just a freak thing, or maybe my pc cleaning tanked a .dll file it was using unaware. The repair seems to have fixed it.

But since others had it happen to them...thought I would share.

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