Early Windows 8 Start screen artwork concepts

If you haven’t customized your Windows 8 lockscreen wallpaper, then you would be looking at the colorful illustration of the Space Needle set against Seattle’s mountain ranges. It turns out that to be the work of Marius Bauer, a talented designer who worked with Microsoft to create the default Start screen and lockscreen wallpapers now seen by millions of people.

On his personal blog, Marius shows off a selection of images from the initial concept phases that explored the combination of silhouettes and nature, which are a source of inspiration for the all-digital designer. Many of the original artworks appear to be loosely focused on the stems of leafs and petals of flowers.

It’s a very interesting style that’s unfortunately not part of the final design.

Before the Microsoft design team finally settled on the Seattle illustration we now see today, there was also a very alluring hybrid photograph-illustration based on the Space Needle wallpaper included in Windows 7 by Will Austin. The combination of vivid colors reflected from the metallic walls of the EMP Museum and the simplified shading in the Space Needle illustration is quite complementary.

I only wish Maurius has the rights to make some of those early concept wallpapers available for download as they’re a great alternative to the official ones in Windows 8.

15 insightful thoughts

  1. Why for the love of god couldn’t they have used his version of the Seattle lock screen??

    All of his early work examples are beautiful and exactly what you would expect from an artist, but the Seattle lock screen they used in the final version is shit…. just utter shit. >.<

    Every time I look at the current default version (which you are forced to on multiple user logins) I can't help but think it looks like something a child would create in elementary school, which they then bring home to their parent who happens to be an exec at Microsoft that gets the idea in their head that they should push this crap to hundreds of millions of users forcefully…. sigh.

    Is there a petition we can make somewhere to get Microsoft to push out a patch to a) not force the current Seattle lockscreen as default when no user is signed in, and b) more importantly, change the lockscreen to Maurius's other version because it's better in almost every imaginable way?

    1. You just nailed it. The first time I saw these concepts, my thoughts were exactly the same. Guess the one who is responsible for choosing the (wrong) final lockscreen image proved himself of having a bad taste, or no taste at all (from a design perspective). Now I have to write Marius if he can send me those or make them public. I’d even pay to get them.

      @buckstermcgee: I think you can change the default version (on multiple user login) by replacing the img100.png image in the C:\Windows\Web\Screens folder. ;)

      1. Yeah, I tried a few different attempts to change it, which I thought worked but now just shows a solid blue color. The solid color is definitely an improvement over the default crap, but not exactly what I wanted.

        In any case there should be an option in the control panel to change the system lock screen, it’s silly they force it upon you with no clear/easy way to change it.

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