What does this mean - "The Desktop Window Manager was unable to start because a composited theme is not in use"?


  • I have a client running the Terminal Services role on Windows Server 2008 SP2.  Every time a user connects to the terminal server using an RDP session this error is logged in the event viewer.  When I click on the link in the event viewer for online help, it takes me to a page that does not exist.  Are these errors significant?  Should I worry about them?
    Tuesday, January 04, 2011 6:56 PM


All replies

  • Randy,

    Could it be that your users are logging on using /admin switch? That causes users to connect using Remote Administration rather than RDS. Within Remote Administration themes are not supported because Remote Administration mode in WS08 has been optimized for administration.

    Kind regards,
    Freek Berson

    Tuesday, January 04, 2011 7:14 PM
  • Yup, that was the problem.  I was logging in using the /admin switch in the RDP session.  I guess it would be nice to have a more descriptive message in the event view.  Duh!


    Tuesday, January 04, 2011 9:08 PM
  • How to do change or where do you change the /admin switch for the rdp session?

    Thank you,


    Monday, March 05, 2012 10:14 PM
  • Neuronite,

    That is done by running mstsc /admin from a command prompt or from the run section in the startmenu.

    Kind regards,
    Freek Berson
    The Microsoft Platform
    Wortell company website

    Wednesday, March 07, 2012 8:11 AM
  • Hi Jason,

    You specify the /admin switch after the computer name in the Remote Desktop Connection dialog.

    like this:

    Computer name:  contososerver /admin

    Hope this helps.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 5:27 PM
  • Would a user with admin right also be triggering the error on the server

    Thursday, May 24, 2012 12:10 PM
  • Yes.  There are two ways to connect to a Terminal Server, Remote Administration (RA) and Remote Desktop Services (RDS).  Remote Administration does not support themes and thus the error is thrown when ANY type of user logs on to a RA session.  The user permissions have no bearing on the RA vs. RDS session.  Thus, a user with administrator rights will recieve the error when logging on to an RA session (specifying the /admin switch) 
    Thursday, May 24, 2012 6:32 PM