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Compatibility administrator and the old setting "Disable Visual Themes"

    Question

  • Hi, I have an old application that I need to get working in Windows 8. I have it up and running but there is one small thing left, and that is to 'disable visual themes'.

    In earlier versions of windows there was an option on the Compatibility tab of a shortcut/program for this, but it is not available in Windows 8. Is there a way to use Compatibility Administrator to create a shim for this, or is there another way to activate this setting?

    With out it, the application messes up the 'maximize/minimize' buttons AND it goes completly blank (White window) under certain circumstances.


    Hans B

    Wednesday, March 27, 2013 9:35 AM

Answers

  • this is by design. In Windows 8 the Desktop Composition is always on. This is required for the new "Metro" UI.

    Desktop Window Manager is always on

    Platforms

    Clients – Windows 8

    Servers – Windows Server 2012

    Description

    In Windows 8, Desktop Window Manager (DWM) is always ON and cannot be disabled by end users and apps. As in Windows 7, DWM is used to compose the desktop. In addition to experiences enabled in Windows 7, now DWM desktop composition enables desktop composition for all themes, support for Stereoscopic 3D, and management, separation, and protection of the experience with Windows Store apps.

    Desktop composition for all themes

    In Windows Vista and Windows 7, desktop composition is enabled only with the AERO Glass Theme. Hence users of Windows Classic and high contrast themes cannot use experiences enabled by desktop composition such as Windows Flip, automatic scaling for high resolution (DPI) scaling, thumbnail Preview and full screen magnifier. In addition, in these earlier versions of Windows, app developers must write and maintain multiple code paths – one where desktop composition is enabled and another where desktop composition is disabled.

    With Windows 8, desktop composition is enabled for all themes. Users of Windows Classic and high contrast themes can use the experiences enabled by desktop composition such as Windows Flip, automatic scaling for high resolution (DPI) scaling, thumbnail previews, and full screen magnifier. In addition, developers don’t need to write and maintain multiple code paths, thereby simplifying development.



    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Tuesday, April 02, 2013 6:00 PM

All replies

  • which application do you try to run?

    I can see it:

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/W8ITProPreRel/thread/7b2529ad-a16b-4a18-944b-e6a29268bc94


    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Wednesday, March 27, 2013 8:38 PM
  • Hi, thanks for your reply. Yes the compatibility mode is still there, this is something else :

    This option is missing in Windows 8.

    The application I'm runing is an old Business software that's using an AS/400 :-(...


    Hans B


    • Edited by Hans Bruman Tuesday, April 02, 2013 6:25 AM
    Tuesday, April 02, 2013 6:23 AM
  • this is by design. In Windows 8 the Desktop Composition is always on. This is required for the new "Metro" UI.

    Desktop Window Manager is always on

    Platforms

    Clients – Windows 8

    Servers – Windows Server 2012

    Description

    In Windows 8, Desktop Window Manager (DWM) is always ON and cannot be disabled by end users and apps. As in Windows 7, DWM is used to compose the desktop. In addition to experiences enabled in Windows 7, now DWM desktop composition enables desktop composition for all themes, support for Stereoscopic 3D, and management, separation, and protection of the experience with Windows Store apps.

    Desktop composition for all themes

    In Windows Vista and Windows 7, desktop composition is enabled only with the AERO Glass Theme. Hence users of Windows Classic and high contrast themes cannot use experiences enabled by desktop composition such as Windows Flip, automatic scaling for high resolution (DPI) scaling, thumbnail Preview and full screen magnifier. In addition, in these earlier versions of Windows, app developers must write and maintain multiple code paths – one where desktop composition is enabled and another where desktop composition is disabled.

    With Windows 8, desktop composition is enabled for all themes. Users of Windows Classic and high contrast themes can use the experiences enabled by desktop composition such as Windows Flip, automatic scaling for high resolution (DPI) scaling, thumbnail previews, and full screen magnifier. In addition, developers don’t need to write and maintain multiple code paths, thereby simplifying development.



    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Tuesday, April 02, 2013 6:00 PM
  • So apps that require this no longer work? Handy. As a developer I am required to fix my bugs and not label them as designed.
    Monday, January 20, 2014 4:19 PM
  • Captain fantastic.. Same problem here, DWM is disabled on my workstations running Windows 7, but it seems compatibility on Win8.1 is non-existant at this point.
    Great news...
    Thursday, September 04, 2014 6:44 PM
  • Even though the flag is not there, its still supported in Windows 8.1 (I just tried)

    Go into Regedit.exe:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers.

    Add new string. Name should be the full path of your app:

    C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Dynamics AX\40\Client\Bin\-appname-.exe

    In Valuedata, enter: ~^ DISABLETHEMES DISABLEDWM

    This worked for me :)

    • Proposed as answer by Garand70 Thursday, March 09, 2017 8:48 PM
    Wednesday, February 25, 2015 11:39 AM
  • I would just like to add that this works perfectly for an issue I had with Skyrim on Windows 8.1.

    After having not played it in a year, I decided to re-install. I am now using dual monitors, which I wasn't before. After running (with mods) I had a problem where I was seeing the normal Skyrim cursor right beside a spinning hourglass cursor (windows). That cursor would move with the Skyrim cursor but would be in a different place - very annoying. Anyway, I found this thread and the fix worked.

    I did have to create the 'Layer' folder/key before adding a new key, and was hesitant at first (I don't make many Registry changes). Worked just fine - no extra cursor. Thanks to Morten!


    Thursday, April 16, 2015 3:54 PM
  • This worked for me as well for Windows 10, after everything else had failed, even on the Steam Forums.  Well done!
    • Proposed as answer by jpenn2 Saturday, April 22, 2017 10:53 AM
    • Unproposed as answer by jpenn2 Saturday, April 22, 2017 10:53 AM
    Friday, November 27, 2015 9:44 AM
  • A better place add/edit this function in Win8, 10, and 2012:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers

    If you already run the application in compatibility mode for WinXpSp3, then simply add DISABLETHEMES behind: ~ WINXPSP3


    For example:
    String Name: C:\Program Files\XYZ Applications\XYZLaunch.exe
    Value Data: ~ WINXPSP3 DISABLETHEMES

    I've had great success with this in Windows Server 2012(running as terminal server).

    



    • Edited by SBeeker Friday, October 28, 2016 4:48 PM
    Friday, October 28, 2016 4:47 PM
  • I just tried both these methods in W10 with Office 2003 but the themes are not disabled.

    In W7 I can disable themes for Word for example and word will start in a standard grey colour and not the baby blue that was so popular in the day.

    In W10 the best I can do is use low colour mode which gives me the grey but turns the icons into very basic looking ones.

    Would love to know if there is a way to disable themes in W10 and have it work the same way as W7 where only the blue colour is removed.

    Thanks

    Thursday, March 16, 2017 8:56 AM
  • I know this post is old but I still thought I should post a quick thanks.  This regedit tweak worked perfectly for me when trying to run the free version of an old game "Starshatter: The Gathering Storm."  It requires compatibility set to Windows XP SP2 but there's still a problem with the cursor not reaching the bottom of the screen.  It could be fixed by checking the box for "Disable Desktop Composition," which of course isn't there in Windows 8.1.  I'm really glad I stumbled on this thread because the fix was super easy and worked great so, thanks a bunch for your help.
    Thursday, June 29, 2017 2:03 AM