Remove Common Tasks on Desktop

Posted on 2010-01-04
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
Hello Experts,

I have a problem with Windows XP clients and their desktops.

I am currently running W2K3 servers with 2 DC's and 150 clients or so.  There are 57 W2K clients and 63 XP Pro SP3 clients.  I am using the Group Policy Management console to apply group policies to a selected OU user accounts.  My requirements for the client desktops are simple.  I would like a uniformed look - the same wallpaper and background colors.  I would like control over the shortcuts and some other restrictions that I can work out later.  It should also be noted that we use a software that has an Internet Explorer add-on that prohibits the use of a mandatory profile.

As a work around, I have created a policy for the Icons and Shortcuts that redirects the Desktop folder to a network share using the Basic setting (redirecting everyones folder to the same location).  In the network share I have the two icons that should be on every desktop and so far in testing it is working.  I have also loaded a custom adm template that controls the icon arrangements - auto arrange, sorted by name and removed My Computer, My Documents, Recycle Bin, etc....

To create the uniformed look I have configured a custom adm template to change the background color of the client computer to white, prevented changing the wallpaper, enabled Active Desktop and configured the Active Desktop Wallpaper to the network share of the background image.

All W2K machines look great and the GP's are behaving as expected.  I am having a problem with my XP clients.  The icons show on the desktop and are arranged; however the wallpaper is not showing.  Instead I am getting the Windows "Common Tasks" bar on the left of the screen (Details, Make new folder, publish to the web, etc...)

I have located a registry fix from the internet that does not work and I have also tried the Common Tasks fix written by Doug Knox.  Neither of these work.  

I have also tried disabling all GP's that apply to this OU and it does not fix it.  I have checked and rechecked my Active Desktop settings and Web Content (nothing checked).  Any help or advice would be much appreciated.

Question by:LR_Brian
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    The common tasks are usually a result of a missing wallpaper. Can you post the GPO settings for the wallpaper?

    Also, on a XP machine open C:\windows\web\wallpaper and make sure the wallpaper you selected is in that folder.
    Is it a JPG or BMP file?
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    It is a JPG wallpaper.  It shows great on the 2K machines, just not the XP boxes.  I will check the path you posted above to verify the wallpaper is present.

    The image shows the GPO settings.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    The wallpaper does not exist in C:\WINDOWS\Web\Wallpaper.  I copied the background image in the folder and logged off and on - no go.
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    Can you please let me know what version of Internet Explorer you are running on the 2k & xp clients?

    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    2k - IE6
    XP - IE7
    LVL 2

    Accepted Solution

    There are many articles around relating to the symptoms you are experiencing, I’ll summarise and provide recommendations based on my on recent experience.
    Regarding the articles you have most likely read regarding the specific issue of the common tasks pane on the desktop and/or the Restore My Active Desktop issue; I haven’t had much luck with these solutions or I haven’t found them to be applicable to a managed environment. (Item 15)

    The underlining root cause of the issue is the reduced Active Desktop functionality within Internet Explorer 7 (or above)...
    --- Extract ---
    Active Desktop has been removed from Windows Vista. It is still available on 32-bit versions of Windows 2003 Server and Windows XP SP2 with reduced functionality. The following features have changed:
    1. Synchronization of Active Desktop with online content is no longer supported.
    2. ***The ability to restore Active Desktop if software or the operating system stops responding is no longer supported***
    3. The Active Desktop item’s window does not show the title of the webpage (it shows the address of the webpage).
    4. For a webpage restricted by Content Advisor, the Action Cancelled page is not displayed.
    --- End Extract ---
    Holding simply to this ***statement*** it is highly recommended to explicitly disable Active Desktop if you are managing an environment with Internet Explorer 7 installed.  This does however remove the ability to define an Active Desktop Wallpaper from the following group policy object: Desktop/Active Desktop/ Active Desktop Wallpaper
    How Active Desktop JPG wallpaper is actually applied is it’s converted into a BMP before being applied to the background.  See %userprofile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Wallpaper.bmp
    The following registry keys are then created in HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop
    ConvertedWallpaper Last WriteTime
    Firstly you will need to create a VBScript which will check if exists the extra registry keys in the HKCU registry hive and delete them.  The problem I’ve found with these keys after you have applied JPG wallpaper via group policy is that they are persistent after you remove the definition of the group policy.  I.e. The wallpaper does get removed.  This could be a user logon script or a package using active setup with runs once for each user logon.  Then you can create a custom ADM group policy to apply the normal wallpaper registry keys - see code.

    Managing the 2k vs xp computer/user environments.  AD OU and Group Policy design...
    bmp wallpaper on all computers.  large 1920x1200 images can compress to 2mb in bitmap (8bit) format.
    end-user experience when logging on between a 2k vs. xp computer.

    	CATEGORY "Additional Settings"
    		CATEGORY "Desktop Wallpaper"
    		POLICY "Desktop Wallpaper"
    		KEYNAME "Control Panel\Desktop"
    		PART "Filename" EDITTEXT
    		VALUENAME "Wallpaper"
    		END PART
    		PART "WallpaperStyle" NUMERIC
    		VALUENAME "WallpaperStyle"
    		END PART
    		PART "TileWallpaper" NUMERIC
    		VALUENAME "TileWallpaper"
    		END PART

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    LVL 1

    Author Closing Comment

    Finally got around to it.  Worked great!

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