Home > Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, XenApp, XenDesktop > Citrix XenDesktop Login screen improvements.

Citrix XenDesktop Login screen improvements.

In this blog post I’m going to talk about the XenDesktop login screen and how to improve its appearance / performance.

Issue 1, Login screen difference:

My first issue with the XenDesktop login screen is its dramatically different appearance to the XenApp login screen for published desktops. By default the XenApp login desktop is simple, to the point and quick to render across latent lines as below:

The Xendesktop login however is the default windows 7 login and is quite graphical as below:

Citrix by default don’t recommend using a desktop wallpaper and under load or high latency this screen can render in black chunks leaving a poor initial user experience. So why use such a graphical login screen?

The other problem I often see, is this vast difference here also causes a headache I call User Envy. User envy occurs when you deploy the Citrix flexcast model using XenDesktop and XenApp published desktops depending on the type of user you are deploying.

User envy occurs when a user using the XenApp published desktop see’s the login screen for xendesktop and immediately thinks they also want a XenDesktop desktop:

  • “because its prettier”
  • “because they have it, I want it too”
  • “its a dedicated desktop, i need a dedicated desktop too”
  • etc.

When using both models in a successful VDI implementation, its quite important to level the user experience.

Issue 2, Sluggish mouse syndrome:

When deploying xendesktop with a Domain welcome message, the cursor on this screen performs really poorly.The cursor sticks and skips across the screen, giving the impression of poor performance from the earliest stage of the session.

I should point out this isn’t a citrix problem, the Windows Aero cursor performs like crap when it’s remoted, regardless of technology. Citrix make a point of disabling the cursor in the session, but left it at the login screen for some reason.

I’ve uploaded an example of this sluggishness below, but anyone who has used XenDesktop in this setup will understand what I’m talking about immediately.

So with these two little niggles on my list of things to fix. I set about making the following improvements:

Creating the same, quick loading screen as XenApp.

This was actually really simple to do, Since windows 7, you have been able to change the login page’s wallpaper using the OEMBackground Key in the registry. Once I knew how to use this key, I took a sample of the XenApp login screen and created a (tiny) jpg file in the correct dimensions.

To do as I have did, follow the below Guide:

  • Download the OEMBackground I have already created here, no point in recreating the wheel.
  • Open C:\windows\system32\OOBE and create a folder called info.
  • inside the info folder, create a folder called backgrounds.
  • Paste the file you have downloaded here as below:

  • Now open Regedit and browse to:
  • Create a Dword (if it doesnt exist) named OEMBackground with the value of 1.

That’s it, reboot and test!

The login screen should now appear as below, result!:

Removing the Aero Cursor from the login screen.

The login screen that appears on a Windows 7 machine is running as the system account. Once we know this, its just a matter of changing the system accounts mouse settings!

Browse to:

HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Cursors

Now replace all values as you see below:

That’s it, reboot and the cursor should be the default (non aero) cursor.

Now once you’ve combined both changes, the login screen becomes crisp, quick to load and nearly identical to the XenApp login screen as below:

  1. June 12, 2012 at 8:23 am

    You’ll probably also want to remove the mouse cursor shadow:
    REG ADD “HKU\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop” /v UserPreferencesMask /d 9E1E078012000000 /t REG_BINARY /f

  2. S
    June 28, 2013 at 12:55 am

    Great idea to match the XenApp experience. Thanks. My question is on the user switching screen during the login desktop launch, have you found a way to hide the cancel button or power option button on the user switching screen as I have found during the desktop launch if the user is quick enough they can click on these buttons and either cancel the login process or select the shutdown or suspend option. It would be great if these options could be hidden or disabled during the XenDesktop launch and on the user account switching screen only show the connecting user account and not for instance the local admin account as well as their own account. Any suggestions Many thanks

  3. S
    July 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Many thanks Andrew. I applied the additional setting to the existing GPO for the virtual Desktop Settings and added > Computer Configuration>Windows Settings>Security Settings> Local Policies>Security Options, “Shutdown: Allow system to be shut down without having to log on” changed from default on windows 7 of Disabled to Enabled. Rebooted the virtual windows 7 machines and the power button is no longer visible.
    On the subject of the cancel button appearing during the desktop launch/logon process I appreciate this cannot be hidden, however I am experiencing a delay sometimes of a couple of seconds, before the session automatically signs in and progresses with the logon process to connect to the desktop. This gives the end user ample time to click on the cancel button if they desired. What is your typical experience in terms of delay time with this stage of the logon process. have you experienced anything similar

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