Windows

Windows 7 Welcome screen pauses for 30 seconds during logon

Using a solid color as your Desktop background makes Windows 7 pause for 30 seconds during logon. Here's a quick registry tweak to fix the problem.

Since upgrading one of our test machines, a Dell Adamo laptop, to Windows 7 Ultimate, I've been thoroughly annoyed by the machine's sluggish boot performance. My peers and coworkers rave about how fast their Windows 7 PCs boot, but my machine was stuck in the start-up slow lane--even though the Adamo has better hardware than several of the other computers. After a little digging, I figured out that my desktop's solid color background was to blame.

It's a feature not a bug

According to Microsoft Knowledge Base article 977346, set a solid color as your desktop background will cause Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 to displace the Welcome screen for 30 seconds during logon. Why? Apparently, the pause occurs because of a time-out interval that sometimes occurs when Windows switches between sessions. Microsoft Knowledge Base article 940452 discusses this time-out interval in greater detail and explains how it can also cause a 30-second delay if you enable the "Run logon script synchronously" Group Policy.

Solution 1: Apply the Microsoft hotfix

A hotfix is available from Mircosoft to fix this issue. You can download the hotfix using the "View and request hotfix downloads" link on MSKB 977346.

Solution 2: Set an image file as your desktop background

If the hotfix doesn't work or you just don't want to install it, using an image file as your background is the easiest way to eliminate the 30-second delay. You can even use an image file that's a solid color.

Solution 3: Edit the DelayedDesktopSwitchTimeout registry entry

According to MSKB 977346, the value of the DelayedDesktopSwitchTimeout registry entry "determines the time-out interval of a session before Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 switches between sessions." By default, the value of this entry is set to 30 (for 30 seconds). To reduce the delay, you can reduce this value.

  1. Click Start.
  2. Enter "regedit" in the Search programs and files box.
  3. Navigate to the registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
  4. Double-click the DelayedDesktopSwitchTimeout entry.
  5. Type 5 in the Value data box, and then click OK.
  6. Close the Registry Editor.

Solution 4: Disable the Desktop Window Manager Session Manager service

As a last resort, you can also disable the Desktop Window Manager Session Manager service. This action should eliminate the delay, but it will also disable all the Windows Aero visual effects.

  1. Click Start.
  2. Type "services" in the Search programs and files box.
  3. Select Services from the results and press Enter.
  4. Double-click Desktop Windows Manager Session Manager.
  5. From the Startup type dropdown list, Select Disabled and click Apply.

More information

For more information on troubleshooting Windows Welcome screen hang-ups, Windows sessions, the Desktop Window Manager, check out the following resources:

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About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

29 comments
edh1215
edh1215

It seems to me that the two KB's are totally separate issues. KB940452 looks like a setting/feature (a time out setting of switching from session 0 to the user session because of a login script), and KB977346 looks a bug related to Aero and no image in the background. Neither KB indicates that the behaviors are "by design" and talk about "problems" - so where are we getting "feature"? So in the above article - solution 2 and 3 aren't even related, so I don't see the point. If you are running Win7 without a desktop image, try solution 2. If you have a login script and you set GP to "Run logon scripts synchronously", change it or update the timeout in the registry. I haven't personally run into a 30 second delay in any Windows 7 systems - no background or with an image. And we don't run login scripts where I am... I'll have to test these out.

alan
alan

A feature that serves no apparent purpose other than to cause aggravation, and it has a hotfix "ready to go", but its not a bug. Granny knew best. If it walks like a Duck and quacks like a Duck, it IS a Duck ! !

bmwpc
bmwpc

Didn't wpork ? for me. Did the hotfix, didn't notice any quicker although I didn't time. Tested the solid color to image change and timed resulted in 1 minute 7 seconds reduced to 1 minute 2 second to my measuring point. My point was after desktop loaded and MS security "tent" went from red to green. Tried to do regedit but my pc had no "delayed Desktopstc" in my "policies" file. Went back to the solid color as I like it better and best time I saw was 5 second gain which is probably witthin the margin or error.

rpr.nospam
rpr.nospam

I wonder why various technical articles (including the Microsoft Knowledge Base) always instruct to edit the Registry using the regedit tool which requires navigating to a registry key to set a value. It's much simpler to do it using command line, e.g.: 1. Start Command Prompt window (cmd.exe). 2. Run the following command: reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System /v DelayedDesktopSwitchTimeout /t REG_DWORD /d 5 /f (you can copy the text and paste it to the command line) -- rpr.

roebling
roebling

Microsoft sez the delay is NOT an issue if you disable Remote Desktop Connection. So, why would anyone savvy enough to be reading these pages have Remote Desktop Connection activated, anyway? Isn't that asking hackers to take over your computer?

HatGuy
HatGuy

NT = No text, but the message gui insists...

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

and stretch it or tile it to the desktop - presto! Solid background, no delay, no messing with registry.

salam
salam

I rearched regedit, no such Key, I have win 7 ultimate 64bit

Migration Expert Zone
Migration Expert Zone

Hope tongue was firmly planted in cheek when you suggested this was a feature, not a bug. :)

jsh97365
jsh97365

The HotFix linked to in Section 1 of this article seems to only be for x86 systems. Is there a HotFix for 64 bit versions of Windows 7? Also, I do not find the registry entry for DelayedDesktopSwitchTimeOut in Windows 7 Home Premium (even did a search, not there). Can this value be added to 64 bit Home Premium and have any effect? Thanks.

jjcanaday
jjcanaday

I just upgraded my ProBook 4710s from XP to Win 7 Pro and the first thing I always do as part of my setup is: set my background to a solid color. I just timed a cold start at 71 seconds, changed to the Win 7 background and timed a cold start at 67 seconds then, changed back to a solid color and timed yet another cold start at 68 seconds. Most of the variability probably came from my log on (Ctrl-Alt-Del and password required). I timed from pressing the power button until the task tray was populated and the mouse pointer made its final change from busy arrow to just an arrow. Also, I don't have the registry entry listed. I think I'm just going to leave well enough alone. But it's still interesting information about a really weird "feature". I just think it's been fixed in an update.

bosjt
bosjt

This thread has been dormant for awhile, but this problem still persists and it's cause is being attributed to many things -- none of which are true for my system. I've spent 4 hours on this with my Dell Latitude E6400 and a clean Windows 7 Professional SP1 x64 MSDN image that includes the latest Windows Updates as of today. This machine is joined to my corporate domain, which seems to be related to the long logon delay.The time from login to Desktop with my cached domain credentials is 65 seconds with LAN wire plugged or not. With Wireless switch in the off position time drops to 33 seconds. However, if I login with the local Administrator account the time is 3 seconds (that's "3" seconds) regardless of the LAN wire or wireless switch modes. This is all with a brand new OCZ Agility 3 SSD in side so I really don't want this one minute delay as you can imagine each time I start my day. I've reviewed all the posts on the web about this Welcome screen delay and none apply/are relevant to me. I have the default Windows desktop background (not a solid color). I've tried all the registry and msconfig workarounds and none affect the delay when I'm using my domain credentials. I should explain this is a fresh install and I'm at home, so to join the domain I had to install and VPN into our company network. But all that seems normal and now that my laptop is in the domain I consistently see 65 seconds to login with (cached) domain credentials and 3 seconds to login with local Admin account. FYI the SSD boosts performance quite a bit and I get from BIOS POST completion to the login prompt in 14 seconds, which is pretty good for this old laptop. I noticed that if I went into msconfig and disabled just the Network Store Interface Service then I can login with my domain credentials in 3 seconds--the same as the local Admin user. So this is CLEARLY the cause "Domain credential and network". But leaving that disabled isn't a solution since there is no network connectivity with that off. I'm providing this info in the hopes that someone will google it and know of a solution. Also, to let people know that this Welcome screen delay is not solely the cause of using a solid color background or something that is fixed by MSFT since I have the latest Windows 7 Sp1 Updates as of January 7, 2012. It is very sad that Windows 7 still suffers from things like this. It may well be that the cause of my issue is a driver problem with Dell, or a network setting at my company, or some fault on my own as this is a new MSDN install I performed myself. But I think this is symptomatic of Apple's rise over MSFT over the last 20 years. Maybe in an open architecture like Windows/intel that has 20 years of history with enterprise networking this is the consequence. That people like us have to struggle with simple things like an unnecessary 60 second logon delay each morning. :-(

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

But why bother typing all that and screw up the registry. Open RegEdit, drill down and copy and paste the entry name and add the value.

felinehart
felinehart

I have this problem with one of the servers I administer as well. I thought I'd change the registry value to see if it helps but no such key exists in Windows Server 2008 Standard 64 bit edition either.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

There's an option to see all 3 updates to the fix (depending on the architecture). It by default only shows the OS version that you are running. Update is for any edition -whether or not it fixes the delay depends on the situation. Seems that this article forgot the "System" key. Even then, the entry doesn't exist. Even the KB implies that it does but it doesn't.

jjcanaday
jjcanaday

I'm running x64; not x86. I don't think the problem exists in x64.

Lost Cause?
Lost Cause?

I upgraded to Windows 7 about 2 months ago. I don't have this registry entry, either.

vinnyboy3
vinnyboy3

Just go to Regedit, HKLM.......Policies/System and create a new DWORD called DelayedDesktopSwitchTimeout and set the value to 5. I used 3 seconds and it worked.

DanielBliss
DanielBliss

Dell Latitude E5520, fresh installation of Windows 7 64-bit (Ultimate), Samsung SSD drive. Wish I knew of a fix.

rpr.nospam
rpr.nospam

I said that you can copy-paste the commands into the command line. So, no typing is actually needed. There is a chance that the user is not careful while doing copy-paste but that problem also exists with your suggestion to copy-paste value name into regedit.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

If the key doesn't exist, you can create it. I've seen this issue on machines where the key did not exist. My solution is usually to go with an image as the desktop background instead of the registry edit.

darren.s.smith
darren.s.smith

I have the described issue only when I don't have a connection to my company network. Any ideas?

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

The article says Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The last time I checked W2K8 R2 is only available in 64-bit. So, I'm guessing it affects x64 as well. It's not affecting mine (W7-x64) because I'm using one of the themes but I do have some W2K8 R2 systems with a solid background. I'll have to check them. Didn't notice any delays the last time I started them (most are VMs).

jsh97365
jsh97365

I think it might, as I have a client I set up a brand new FAST, loaded with RAM system running Home Premium 64 bit, and it boots up slower than my cheap-o HP laptop with less than half the RAM and a slower processor, also running Home Premium 64 bit. He wanted a solid color desktop background, so I did that for him, and the system seems to 'hang' while booting up longer than it should. I guess I'll experiment on my laptop, see how it responds.

Lost Cause?
Lost Cause?

Even without this registry entry, my Dell boots faster than it did with XP or with Vista. Do I need this registry entry???

toms
toms

Your last sentence says it all. "If you just restart Widows (sic Windows) ... Spellchecker won't work here, you need a Mark 1 eyeball.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

This hang only occurs on the Welcome screen after you enter your user name and password. I've also noticed that this happens on the first login after the machine has been shut down and restarted. If you just restart Widows, the delay doesn't seem to happen.

jsh97365
jsh97365

I switched my theme to Windows Classic, which had the pale blue backgroud and re-boot twice. Both times it booted just as fast as using a fancy theme. Boot time on my 2.0 GHz AMD M300 CPU and 3 GIGS of RAM is in the 35 to 40 second range from the "Starting Windows" graphic until the desktop is up an usable, ie: the cursor is not busy any more. I think that is pretty good for a cheap laptop. I happen to be going to that client's site this afternoon, I'll see if I can scope out what happening on his system. I already sent him a link to this blog site.

jjcanaday
jjcanaday

I'm really interested to hear your results. My HP laptop has the 2.1 GHz T6570 with 8 GB Ram and and a 7200 RPM SATA-2 drive. I don't consider 60-70 seconds to be that long a boot time; considering I'm counting until the mouse cursor changes to a plain arrow. I'm not real clear on where in the process they're reporting a 30 second delay. I have no point where it looks like nothing is going on for 30 seconds. I guess I could add that Reg entry and time it again but, evidence to date tells me there won't be a 30 sec improvement.