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Standard desktop background for Windows 7 clients in AD

Posted on 2010-08-18
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Hi,

The school district where I work is deploying several labs running Windows 7 Pro 32 bit on Dell Optiplex 780s. We are on a Windows 2008 domain and want a standard desktop wallpaper for all domain users. I do not administer the network, but the guy who does has a policy in place that works just fine for all the XP clients. The Windows 7 boxes do not get the background picture. This is the case even if the logged in user is in the administrators group. All you get is a black background. When you log off you can briefly see the picture, but that's it. One odd  thing to mention is; you can manually pick the picture from "personalities" (or something like that) when you right-click the desktop. As soon as you log off and log back in, all you get is black screen. Any ideas?

Thanks,
Mike
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Question by:ocockm
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Expert Comment

by:Beghemot
ID: 33470435
Take a look at this and see if it fits:

 it seems the Registry key [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WallPaper] is missing

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/winserverGP/thread/a1ebfe81-421e-4630-8c1f-8068222ee533

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Expert Comment

by:jessmca
ID: 33470443
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Expert Comment

by:jmiller47
ID: 33470450
What type of image is it? JPG, PNG, BMP, etc??
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Author Comment

by:ocockm
ID: 33470496
To all who've responded.... thank you!

The image is a JPG

We've also tried the registry entry fix to no avail. We've also read about the "hotfix" MS speaks of. When I navigate to the link provided, I get a screen to contact MS.... not a hotfix download.
I am going to try Win 7 SP1 beta tomorrow 8/19/10 on a test machine and see if the mystery "hotfix" is contained in it.  
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Expert Comment

by:Adam Brown
ID: 33470549
The issue you're running into is caused by differences in the way Windows 7 handles the background. The option of adding the wallpaper key to the registry on the computers will work, but it is not an optimal solution, as it can cause a lot of problems. Particularly if you want to allow users to change the background. If you don't want them to change backgrounds, it'll probably work for you to deploy that background through a script or with Group Policy Preferences in the situation that you have a 2008 server or some other way to access GPP.

Otherwise, it's best to handle default background changes through a Windows 7 Theme. Follow these instructions to create a custom theme file: http://www.blogsdna.com/2210/how-to-create-windows-7-themes.htm 
Move the .themepack file to a share that is accessible to all users on your server and set the following GPO setting: User Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Control Panel\Personalization\Load a Specific Theme
Enable that policy and enter the path to the .themepack file. That will allow you to easily control the background, screen saver, and the color of the task bar if you want as well. The "Prevent changing theme" setting in the same location will also prevent users from changing the them. Using a theme really is the best way to manage this for Windows 7. The Desktop Wallpaper setting is primarily for Windows XP and prior.
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Expert Comment

by:Adam Brown
ID: 33470597
Also, just a note, setting that policy will only change the background the first time the user logs on to the computer.
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Author Comment

by:ocockm
ID: 33470722
acbrown,

I have a couple of questions. Can I create the .themepack file on a Win 7 box that isn't on the domain?
Ideally I would like to configure all the settings the way I like including the wallpaper and save the theme as a file. Then put the .themepack file on the network and have it set on all our Win 7 boxes.
Would the actual picture used as the wallpaper need to be copied to the network location where the .themepack file resides? Or would just the .themepack file take care of the issue?
If this is implemented on our network, how will it impact our XP boxes? Right now they get the proper wallpaper.

Thanks!
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Accepted Solution

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Adam Brown earned 300 total points
ID: 33470749
All the settings, including necessary files, should get wrapped into the .themepack file. The XP boxes can't process the settings for the themepack, and it will only apply to Windows 7/Vista machines. It may add some registry entries to your Windows XP machines, but those entries won't actually do anything. The optimal solution would be to build two GPOs, one for the XP machines to get their desktop settings and the other for Vista/7 machines. After doing that, build a WMI filter to target each OS so you don't have the desktop wallpaper setting affecting the Windows 7 machines (Because it will, but only slightly).
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Author Closing Comment

by:ocockm
ID: 33471548
I don't actually administer our network, so I can't test these steps personally. But, everything acbrown2010 wrote makes sense and looks like it will work. I can't wait to try it out. This issue has been confounding us for a few weeks now and it will be nice to get Windows 7 up and running and configured exactly like we want it. It's time for XP to move over.

Thanks acbrown2010
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