Enterprise policies can be strict. In some companies, colorful wallpapers (such as photos of your last trip to Hawaii or a picture of a sports car) might not be liked or may even be locked down by group policy. So the only thing left is a neutral solid-color background, right?
The problem is: In most cases, a solid-color screen background causes your Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 computers to start noticeably slower than usual. The logon process takes up as much as 30 seconds, which is a real pain. This issue affects the boot-up process, when you unlock the machine and log back on after your PC resumes from Sleep mode.
On all of our test beds the effects were more than annoying:
|Logon time (With JPG wallpaper selected)||Logon time (with solid color wallpaper selected)|
|Client A (Laptop with 2 GHz Core 2 Duo)||6 seconds to desktop||36 seconds to desktop|
|Client B (Laptop with 3 GHz Core 2 Quad)||5 seconds to desktop||33 seconds to desktop|
|Client C (Desktop with 2.4 GHz Core i7)||2 seconds to desktop||31 seconds to desktop|
Microsoft acknowledged this problem and published a Hotfix that is supposed to get rid of the issue:
- Windows 7/Server 2008 KB 64-Bit Hotfix (KB)
- Windows 7/Server 2007 KB 32-Bit Hotifx (KB)
The patch replaces the files Apps.inf and Shell32.dll with an updated version that is supposed to solve the issue. In our test environments and virtual machines, the patch had only limited success. On some computers it worked, on others it did not help at all. It’s still a hotfix and will probably be more advanced and successful when it ships as a final Windows Update or, more likely, as part of Windows 7 SP1.
We dug a bit deeper and found that the following couple of steps helped instantly:
Solution #1: The Simple Fix
The obvious solution is — of course — to select a JPG image as a background. If your company does not permit colorful wallpapers, simply create a solid-color image. Even Paint can do that:
Save it as a JPG and put it in the
Windows\Web\Wallpaper folder on your client computers. Make sure that no policy preventing background JPG images is active; otherwise disable it.
Now, right-click on your desktop, select “Personalize” and go to “Desktop Background.” You should see your new background on the bottom of the list of all wallpapers. Select it and click on “Save changes.”
To see if that worked, either restart your machine or simply log off and back on again. If the issue still persists, you need to change a small value in the registry.
Solution #2: A Registry Fix
Open the Registry Editor (click on the Start orb, type in
regedit and hit Return). Go to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System and right-click in the right-hand pane of the editor.
Click on “New” and “DWORD (32-bit) Value” and name the new value
DelayedDesktopSwitchTimeout. Double-click on the entry and type in “5”:
Close regedit and you’re done.
Try logging out again. If the startup time hasn’t improved, it’s time for more serious work.
Solution #3: Turning Off Services
If all that did not help, the only solution left is to disable the “Desktop Session Manager” service which is responsible for handling the nice transparent Windows Aero interface. Your desktop will not be as beautiful, but your nerves will at least be spared the constant delay.
Open up the Start Menu and enter “services” in the search box. Click on “Services” in the results and double-click on “Desktop Windows Manager Session Manager.” Next to the “Startup type” entry, select
Disabled instead of
Automatic. Windows 7 will now revert to a simple 2D visual style, but the problem will finally be gone.
We hope that in your environment either the registry trick or the wallpaper solution worked. Otherwise your Windows 7 client will have only a stripped down Windows design.
Want more like this? Sign up for the weekly IT Expert Voice newsletter so you don’t miss a thing!