For reasons too long to discuss here, we have upgraded a Windows Server 2012 VM to Windows Server 2019. We hardly ever do this, but the upgrade actually went well.

However, one thing a few folks noticed is that, when a new user logs in, the color scheme and other window theming looks like Server 2012 rather than Server 2019. Not a major issue, but people have noticed nonetheless. I'm not talking about the default wallpaper but more the way windows and borders look.

I would expect this for existing accounts but not brand-new ones created post-upgrade.

Is anyone aware of a way to set new-user themes to the Server 2019 defaults instead of the Server 2012 defaults?

  • Hi, with the user experiance feature enabled you can force a theme from a GPO, but kinda odd that you have to do that. That folder exist, %windir%\resources\Themes\ ? and user experience is on?
    – yagmoth555
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 3:04
  • Yes, the desktop experience is enabled. Yes, that folder exists. Yeah, I thought about a GPO, but I was trying to do it "the right way," so to speak. If I don't figure this out, it's not a big deal -- to the point that I probably won't apply a GPO to workaround it. But it would be nice to know what controls this in any case.
    – JasonF
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 3:10

1 Answer 1


I think I found the closest thing to an answer: replace C:\Users\Default with another C:\Users\Default from a vanilla (not upgraded) installation of Windows Server 2019 (or whatever version of Windows Server you are upgrading to).

During the in-place upgrade process, Windows Server preserves some settings in C:\Users\Default, including theme/color settings.

After copying the C:\Users\Default directory structure to your upgraded Windows Server installation, make sure that permissions on the files and folders are preserved from the source C:\Users\Default.

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