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Microsoft may be busy cooking up the next edition of Windows for release later on this year, but the Redmond company has still found time to deliver a bunch of delicious new themes for Windows 8. Created by the software maker "for the armchair traveler," themes are set in some of the world’s most picturesque and exotic locations, and if you want to freshen up your Windows 8 machine or device with a new look, please check out the details after the break.

Windows has always been a highly customizable platform, and although many third parties specialize in allowing consumers to tweak their way to the perfect setup, Microsoft has always sought to offer its users a decent supply of alternative looks to those bundled as stock.

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These new themes come as part of Microsoft’s Open Call project, which called upon artists and photography aficionados to capture some beautiful stills in various locations across the world. The result is a varied,  insightful look at some of the globe’s natural scenery, with locations spanning from New Zealand to Germany, Canada to the Italian shores of Sardinia.

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If you want to take a look at some British architecture, Imran Mirza has taken some delicious shots of sights like Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and Buckingham Palace, while Macedonian photographer Slavco Stojanoski’s "raindrops and dew" bundle will help ease away those morning woes and concentrate on the calming, natural side of this time of day.

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Microsoft’s plan to take the world on its travels, without actually taking the world on its travels, does, at times, really capture the imagination. Finding a shot of a pretty landscape is not particularly difficult in itself, but with each telling its own little story about parts of the world some of us wouldn’t otherwise have seen, they all look pretty good value for the download.

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Each artist and photographer adds their own unique twist to proceedings, and if you’d like to travel the world but don’t have the money, time, or the means to go ahead and fling a backpack over your shoulder, these are perhaps the next best thing.

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If you’re interested in applying any of these nature-based themes to your desktop, head over to the newest section of Windows Personalization Gallery to download them: windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/themes

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