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Our company has many virtual Windows 7 instances. Based on recommendations from VMWare, we want to customize the visual effects to optimize performance. We have found that we can change the following options via GPO:

  • Let Windows choose what's best for my computer
  • Adjust for best appearance
  • Adjust for best performance
  • Custom

VMWare wants us to select Custom and then apply very specific options in the check boxes below the four options above. I've found an article to do this via the registry manually but those options do not work. GPO also does not handle this natively. Does anyone know how we can change these options to what we need via GPO?

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1 Answer

First off, have a look at this page, which is a little blog post on performance tuning Windows 7 for virtualization. Seems like it might be helpful.

Second, the only Microsoft-supported way to do what you want is via a user profile customization, process documented in a Microsoft KB here.

Third, as suggested by @Zordache , setting registry keys is a function that's natively handled by GPPs (Group Policy Preferences), which is probably a better approach to this than GPOs.

Finally, if you insist on doing so via a GPO, your best option is probably going to be to use a logon or startup script that sets the registry keys in question. For the most part, they're the same as the key values in XP, but you should be able to do your own Googling to get precise key values for the precise options you want to set.

I suppose that in case the link goes dead, I'll post the registry keys and values for the majority of the settings below. Grabbed from the third link there.

[HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\VisualEffects]
;0 = Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer
;1 = Adjust for best appearance
;2 = Adjust for best performance
;3 = Custom
"VisualFXSetting"=dword:00000003

[HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ThemeManager]
;Use visual styles on windows and buttons (0=off 1=on)
"ThemeActive"="1"
[HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]
;Use common tasks in folders (0=off 1=on)
"WebView"=dword:00000001
;Show translucent selection rectangle (0=off 1=on)
"ListviewAlphaSelect"=dword:00000001
;Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop (0=off 1=on)
"ListviewShadow"=dword:00000001
;Use a background image for each folder type (0=off 1=on)
"ListviewWatermark"=dword:00000001
;Slide taskbar buttons (0=off 1=on)
"TaskbarAnimations"=dword:00000001
[HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics]
;Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing (0=off 1=on)
"MinAnimate"="1"
[HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop]
;Show window contents while dragging (0=off 1=on)
"DragFullWindows"="1"
;Smooth edges of screen fonts (0=off 2=on)
"FontSmoothing"="2"
;Smooth scroll list boxes
;Slide open combo boxes
;Fade or slide menus into view
;Show shadows under mouse pointer
;Fade or slide tooltips into view
;Fade out menu items after clicking
;Show shadows under menus
;(All off = 90,12,01,80   All on = 9e,3e,05,80)
"UserPreferencesMask"=hex:9e,3e,05,80

“UserPreferencesMask” Is tricky because it’s a combination of all the settings, depending on what you pick, you will create a different hex.

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2  
Why a login script to set the registry instead of the Group Policy Preference? –  Zoredache Feb 21 '13 at 18:46
    
@Zoredache Good point. Probably because I'm working in an environment where XP is still the primary client OS, that didn't occur to me (we have to leave GPPs alone, because they don't apply consistently on our XP boxes). –  HopelessN00b Feb 21 '13 at 19:11
    
It's also possible to create your own ADM/ADMX files to modify the registry settings. But, it's a fair amount of work. –  Chris S Feb 21 '13 at 19:30
    
Thanks guys, this info helps out a ton! –  Kevin Shoaf Feb 21 '13 at 19:59
    
Keep at the GP registry settings. It took us a while to get that to work, but that may be the easiest way still... –  MDT Guy Oct 4 '13 at 15:58
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