Take the 2-minute tour ×
Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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"?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 17 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

share|improve this answer
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
This is also a requirement if you want to have system icons on your desktop. Wonder WTF were thinking in Microsoft when they packaged Windows features together... –  Massimo Sep 14 '14 at 14:27

in server 2012 R2 after installing desktop experience You can change colors of windows

enter image description here

share|improve this answer

If you don't want to install the Desktop Experience feature (and you should think twice about it, as it also installs a bunch of apps), there is another option that's a bit limited but might work: the High Contrast color schemes.

You see, the colors of the Basic scheme are actually customizable, but the controls to do so are only visible if you select one of the high-contrast color schemes.


enter image description here


enter image description here

Unfortunately, in their infinite wisdom, Microsofties don't allow you to customize all of the colors, so this approach definitely involves some trade-offs. In particular, the taskbar color is not directly customizable. But I still seem to prefer a tweaked high contrast scheme to the default, without the risks of installing Windows Media Player and AVI codecs on my servers.

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer
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

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.