The Mac-flavored theme is incomplete, but the Start Menu and navigation buttons are quite clearly an homage to Apple’s now iconic aesthetic, which was itself unveiled roughly 18 months prior to the release of XP.
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The theme is described as a “Whistler skin with eye candy” (“Whistler” being the codename for Windows XP) and is designated for “internal use only”.
It appears to have been used as a temporary theme during the development process, while Microsoft was working on the Windows XP theme engine that later allowed third-parties to overlay their own designs.
Windows XP source code
The Mac-like Windows XP theme was discovered after source code for the 19-year-old operating system was published to bulletin board website 4chan.
The 43GB data dump also included source code for Windows 2000 and multiple versions of Windows CE, MS DOS, Windows Embedded and Windows NT - plus a section dedicated to conspiracy videos aimed at Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
According to the individual responsible for the leak, though, Windows XP source code has been circulating within hacking communities for years now, which suggests major new security vulnerabilities are unlikely to be uncovered.
However, this doesn’t rule out the discovery of further easter eggs like the Candy theme. It remains to be seen what else might be uncovered as the newly public files undergo further scrutiny.
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Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.