Windows 7 RTM Issue with Group Policy Enforced Wallpaper

I was asked by our Support folks to let you know about an issue that effects Windows 7 when you try to set the desktop wallpaper through Group Policy.  I am blogging this on the Deployment Guys blog because the issue can be avoided by a configuration item in the image build.

Under certain circumstances when you try to use this group policy setting (User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Desktop\Desktop\Desktop Wallpaper) the desktop wallpaper isn't applied and a solid background is displayed instead.

This problem can occur if a desktop wallpaper is applied through group policy and any of the following conditions exist:

  • The default theme applied doesn't explicitly define a desktop wallpaper

  • The user has never explicitly defined a desktop wallpaper

  • A classic theme is in use

This problem occurs if the Wallpaper registry value in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop is either missing or empty. 


Therefore, you can avoid this issue in your Windows 7 image by configuring a default wallpaper.  See my October 29, 2009 post for information on creating default settings.

To fix this in machines that have already bee deployed, you need to configure the above registry value with a non-blank value.  This can be done in one of several ways:

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This post was contributed by Michael Murgolo a Senior Consultant with Microsoft Services, U.S. East Region.

Comments (11)

  1. All I can suggest is that anyone still experiencing the issue after installing the hotfix should contact Microsoft Customer Support.

    Michael Murgolo

  2. rolf says:

    Hi there,

    I have tried adding this registry entry both manually at the actual machine and via group policy preferences but the wallpaper is still notshowing, just the black screeen.

    If I check the registry the wallpaper entry is there and it has the correct server share location which is acessible for the user logged on (I can browse to it). The network drives are also correctly mapped as defined in the GPO preferences. So the GPO appears to be fully applied.

    If I look at the desktop personalise screen the correct wallpaper shows in the top unamed theme and also as the desktop background at he bottom, though it takes a small pause before the black screen turns to the wallpaper.

    Anyone have any ideas..?

  3. Murray Hossack says:

    I have this issue to. I have found that the wallpaper is applied each time when the user logs off which is somewhat annoying. Especially as it works correctly for XP clients using the same GPO which confirms I have got the correct settings in the GPO.

    My suspicion is that the ADM requires a revision to reference the correct registry key as this is most likely different to XP. I am loath to undertake this as it will probably be changed by a Microsoft upgrade when they review how GPO’s work with Windows 7 clients and it is not critical but just annoying.

    If they can also sort out the management and configuration of Default user in Windows 7 to be equivalent to XP many of us will be far less frustrated.

  4. Travis says:

    I was having the same issue on one of my Windows 7 machines. Everything was setup correctly on my group policy. However when I logged in to the Workstation and looked at the registry the Wallpaper entry was not present. By adding the Wallpaper entry is resolved my issue.


  5. gautam says:

    We now have a hotfix available for the original issue where "group policy fails to apply when applied via group policy".

    You can download the Hotfix straight off the KB article page.

    The "Desktop Wallpaper" Group Policy setting is not applied in Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2



  6. Anthony says:

    Hot fix doesn’t work .. Any other suggestions?

  7. Chris says:

    I have this problem.  I am launching Windows 7 and want to use the GPO for wallpaper.  Works on XP currently.

    I can login to a blank Win7 PC without the setting applied which will create the local profile and standard backgrouds etc.  I can then log off the user move him to the OU with the GPO applied that sets the wallpaper, restart, wait for replication and logon.  This user will get the background.  (NOT OK FOR FIX)

    If I log this user in to a blank win7 machine while in the GPO that applies policy, the desktop does not show up.  Only a black screen.  At log off, I get a glimpse of it prior to getting returned to Ctrl-Alt-Del.

    Any updates on this?  I saw the kb977944 and prior to this thread and didn’t see it as a real viable solution and it looks like someone already tested and failed.

  8. Chris says:

    I tested hotfix and it worked on win7 x64. Install and reboot.


  9. Jatin Purohit says:

    I’ve installed this hot fix bt nt luck…

    Any one pls help me…

  10. TIAGO PALADINO says:

    Exist a Hotfix for this issue:…/977944

    Works in my network.

  11. Any hints for deploying a custom login wallpaper for different monitor size and aspect ratios?

    I can apply a custom wallpaper using group policy and it works fine however the image doesn't display correctly on some monitors. I believe the issue resolves around the aspect ratio of each monitor.

    We have both 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratio monitors in the fleet.

    Is there a setting that can apply the same wallpaper correctly on each monitor type or is there a way of defining different wallpapers for different monitor configurations?

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