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I have installed a fresh copy of Windows Server 2012 and when I go to Control Panel > Appearance > Display > Color and Appearance it states "This page is not available in this edition of Windows".

The version I installed is the latest from MSDN subscriber downloads and is listed under Computer Properties as "Windows Server 2012 Standard". I can change the desktop background color, but not the colors of the window borders. The only "schemes" available are "Windows Basic" and then 4 even uglier "High Contrast" schemes.

It's not a huge deal, but looking at the ugly baby blue window borders all the time is giving me a headache. Why would such a simple setting "not be available"?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

You'll need to enable the "Desktop Experience" feature to get the desktop parts (color schemes, 3d graphics, windows media player etc). We do this on our terminal servers. You might have to force users into using a defined style - this can be done via the local group policy or in a regular domain based GPO.

Below screenshot comes from here.

Desktop Experience

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Thanks, that works! –  bigmac Sep 27 '12 at 16:30
    
After you have chosen a better color scheme, you can remove the feature and your settings will stick. –  zacharydl Mar 11 '13 at 5:15
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It's a server. You actually already gave the answer yourself with this line:

"This page is not available in this edition of Windows"

Servers are ment for remote administration, so therefore it makes no sense to actually program those features into the core of the OS.

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I don't disagree with you Frederik, but it's strange that it's been available for every other version of Windows Server so it's not really additional programming. I can't believe that there are any security implications in a color picker, and if they are going to remove it, why not stick with the standard grey color instead of picking a color that is so horrendous. Again, it's not a big issue, but sometimes the decisions of MS truly surprise me. –  bigmac Sep 27 '12 at 16:05
    
@bmccleary MS is definitely moving away from Server GUIs and this is one of the effects, themes are becoming a userspace feature added to client OSes by default (and servers as an add-on, see Pauska's answer). All code potentially adds vulnerabilities, especially in ways you couldn't imagine before it gets hacked. Removing as much code as possible removes those potential vectors as well. As for the choice of color, perhaps it was meant to encourage you to learn remote administration. –  Chris S Sep 27 '12 at 16:27
    
This is not correct at all. See my answer. –  pauska Sep 27 '12 at 16:28
    
Chris, I agree. Most of my servers I actually install as server core, but this server is an administration server that I use to connect to the cores and run ancillary 3rd party programs, hence the need for a GUI. –  bigmac Sep 27 '12 at 16:32
    
"It's a server": obviously you don't use servers for development, but many others do, in which case it's a reasonable question. –  GlennG Mar 9 '13 at 23:30
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