Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Enabling Aero Glass or Windows 7 Basic theme in Remote Desktop Connection to a Windows Server 2008

By default, remote desktop connections to a Windows Server 2008 get Windows Classic theme. Enabling Aero or Windows 7 Basic theme requires a couple of steps, and here are the relevant settings (for next time I'll have to do this again)

On server:
1) Add the Desktop Experience feature from the Server Manager.

2) Set the Themes service to autostart, and start the Themes service.
3) Enable the “Allow desktop composition for remote desktop sessions” policy from gpedit.
The policy path is “ComputerConfiguration\AdministrativeTemplates\WindowsComponents\Remote Desktop Services\Remote Desktop Session Host\Remote Session Environment”
4) Enable 32bpp for RDP connections - In Server Manager, go to “Remote Desktop Session Host Configuration” under “Remote Desktop Services” role, right-click on the connection to bring up “RDP-Tcp Properties”, uncheck “Limit Maximum Color Depth” from “Remote Desktop Session Host Configuration.”

More details on the steps above here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2009/06/23/aero-glass-remoting-in-windows-server-2008-r2.aspx

5) Since the defaul theme is Classic and can't be changed from Display Properties while connecting through RD, you need to force Aero as a default theme. Again use gpedit, under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Control Panel\Personalization\Force a specific visual style or force Windows Classic, set it to Enabled and type in the Path to Theme file "%windir%\Resources\Themes\Aero\aero.msstyles".

More details on this here: http://windows7themes.net/windows-7-theme-group-policy.html

On the client machine:
1)  In Mstsc's options, the color depth of the remote session must be set to 32-bit
2) “Desktop composition” must be enabled on the Experience tab
(If the above are not set, the Windows 7 Basic theme will be used instead of Aero)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the hint with forcing the style in gpedit.msc. Works great!