Hiding the Metro Tiles in Windows Server 2012 R2

Win12R2_DesktopRegA giant THANK YOU to Pierre Roman over at CanITPro (they beat us in hockey, and they’re beating the Metro interface back with a stick!) for his article: “Step-By-Step: Booting directly to the Desktop in Windows 8.1

Because of it, there is a VERY GOOD chance that I won’t be inundated with support calls Monday morning as this new terminal goes live from people who don’t know what the Metro interface is or how to use it.

But with Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2, Microsoft listened and gave us a way to boot directly to the desktop view of Win 8.1, and not the Start screen.

On Win 8.1 it’s an item in the Taskbar and Navigation properties dialog; but to push it out to everyone, you need to use Group Policy to push a Registry change.  This hasn’t made it to an ADMX yet.

According to the article, you want to make a new Group Policy Registry preference and push it out:

Key: HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\StartPage\
Value: OpenAtLogon
Value Type: Reg_DWORD
Value Data: “0” Boots to the Desktop
Value Data: “1” Boots to the Start Screen

And the next time they log in, they’ll go to the desktop, not Start.


The Font Smoothing Box Does Nothing! (Where is Fallout Boy?)

There are times when Microsoft makes me wonder. You develop this cool technology, ClearType, which helps reduce eyestrain, you put checkboxes all over the Remote desktop client allowing me to choose to use or not use it, you have it active in the shell… but then you casually ignore it and withhold it from me. What gives?

Oh, a KB article sheds some light:

The option to enable theFont smoothing feature is not available in the version of RDC that was released with Windows Server 2003. By default, Windows Server 2003 disables theFont smoothing feature in all remote connections. These connections include the connections that are established through RDC 6.0.

Happily, MS’s dictatorship is matched only by its benevolence, because there’s a “hotfix” available for this problem:

KB946633:The “Font smoothing” feature has no effect in Windows Server 2003 terminal sessions

It kinda cracks me up…

“We’ll put the feature in.”

“But it doesn’t work. We should disable the checkboxes”

“Why would we do that?”

I bring this up because we just migrated a client over to a terminal server environment, and the number one complaint was “My fonts aren’t fuzzy!”

Since I actually prefer the crispness of an LCD display, I didn’t really notice, or care, but since I wasn’t signing the check, I did my best to comply. I used bing to google the issue, and found the hotfix.

Of course, since it’s a hotfix, it requires a reboot… so here I am at 5:30 AM, having just rebooted the server.

This hotfix is available via draconian download — you fill out a form, they send an email with the link – however, they put the link in parentheses, so Outlook botches the conversion and breaks the link, resulting in the need for you to copy and paste the URL into your browser. From there, it’s a Start > Next > Finish install and a reboot seals the deal.

As a side note: ClearType increases the bandwidth requirements, and is only available if you’re running in “High Bandwidth” mode in the RDP 6.0 (or better) client. It also needs to be turned on in the desktop session.

In the RDP client:


Click Options > Experience tab

The check off the “font smoothing” box.

On the Windows 2003 Desktop:


Right click on the desktop > Properties >Appearance tab > Effects button

That should do it!