Skinnable software: always a good sign

I’m looking at my favourite freeware programs – Firefox, Winamp, Picajet, Desktop Sidebar – and I’m seeing a common thread. They all let you apply your own skins or themes. There’s no better way to show that, in designing your program, the user comes first. All are fabulous tools, with fabulous user focus.
It’s also a very easy way to generate some community around your product: sites like Wincustomize, ThemeXP and Deviantart are full of creative people eager to express themselves using someone else’s software as their canvas, and share the results. It also extends the life expectancy of your product. We all get bored of staring at the same old interface all day; this is a free way to delay that eventual boredom.
Which makes it all the more curious that Microsoft should force you to download a hacked version of the relevant DLL, before you can get creative with Windows XP themes. Would people love Microsoft more if they let the users take control, even in this small way?