Let's start at the beginning. "Royale" is the name of the theme that ships on Windows Media Center Edition (and it was also called Electric Blue or something along those lines on the Tablet release of XP). Royale was blue and, in fact, looked a lot like the blue version of the Luna theme, but shinier (and prettier, but if it's shiny, doesn't that go with out saying?).
Well, when the talented folks at MSX were creating Royale, they also created a rogue version of the theme called Royale Noir. Somehow it got signed and then unofficially distributed internally. It was really cool. It actually made XP look really great and it was common for people to think I was running Vista when they saw my machine with Royale Noir.
In fact, this became a bit of a problem. I would purposely turn Royale Noir off if I was going to be showing my screen in public (at conferences, etc.) to avoid questions about the rogue theme. I forgot a lot, though, a lot of you saw it and asked about.
So the good news: first, Royale Noir actually leaked a week or so ago. You can get the leaked version here. I wish this had happened a year ago. It's kind of crummy timing for MS, really, because XP now looks much cooler and right on the eve of Vista's launch. It's great for XP users though.
Now for the twist. Today, Nathan sent me a link to this. It's a refactored version of the Royale Noir theme that they are tying to the Zune. Interesting. Unfortunately, I can't try this out because I don't have a machine that boots to XP these days. That's right, I'm a serious self hoster (even on my MacBook!). Word is, though, that it's cleaned up, a little grayer and has an orange start button. In case you missed the earlier link, get it here.
Incidentally, WPF does support Royale. By that, I mean that we created a vector version of each of the default control styles for Royale. But not Royale Noir. Normally in this situation WPF would fall back to the classic theme for all the default controls. I think that Royale Noir must have been a modified Luna Silver, though, because for some reason (which I never investigated), that's what I seemed to get when Royale Noir was running on my machine. If someone tries out the Zune theme with WPF, let me know what the default controls do.