Rafael does it again and cuts to the heart of one of the remaining mysteries in Windows 7 Starter: What's the deal with the unchangeable wallpaper? Turns out Microsoft isn't going to let anyone change it, even PC makers and wireless carriers.

Given Windows 7 Starter’s applicability to the rising netbook market, it was presumed that Starter would branded by OEMs and/or mobile carriers (like Verizon) like any other Windows SKU. This is no longer a valid presumption.

Here’s the official scoop, from Microsoft:

In Windows Starter Edition, OEMs must not modify or replace the Windows-provided background for Windows Welcome, the logon screen, or the desktop.

Yikes.

Digging through the recent leaked builds, I have also confirmed that Microsoft has modified the SHA-256 hash, indicating a new (and now permanent) Starter wallpaper is now in place. Due to the low quality of the recent leaks, however, I can’t show you what it looks like. My guess? The new humongous Windows logo wallpaper, shrunk down of course.

So... Why? This news makes the remaining bizarre Windows 7 Starter limitation even more bizarre. Why Microsoft? Why?