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.
- Click Start.
- Enter "regedit" in the Search programs and files box.
- Navigate to the registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
- Double-click the DelayedDesktopSwitchTimeout entry.
- Type 5 in the Value data box, and then click OK.
- 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.
- Click Start.
- Type "services" in the Search programs and files box.
- Select Services from the results and press Enter.
- Double-click Desktop Windows Manager Session Manager.
- From the Startup type dropdown list, Select Disabled and click Apply.
For more information on troubleshooting Windows Welcome screen hang-ups, Windows sessions, the Desktop Window Manager, check out the following resources:
- The Welcome screen may be displayed for 30 seconds during the logon process after you set a solid color as the desktop background in Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2 (MSKB)
- The Welcome screen may be displayed for 30 seconds, and the logon script interacts with me when I try to log on to a computer that is running Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 (MSKB)
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Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
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 support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.