Chapter 2: The perfect Corporate XP Workstation Install

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Network Cookbook for Small and Medium Enterprises.

Lowering costs by making technology easier to maintain.

Optimizing a workstation before cloning and deployment can be a chore. Here is what I do.

Create a user named newdefault, this user will be copied over the hidden default profile to apply the settings to future users.

I only like the classic windows look so first thing, right click start, properties, and select Classic. Ahh much better

Next, right click the desktop, properties, themes tab, select Windows Classic, set desktop background to None.

Click Customize Desktop on the bottom, and uncheck the ‘Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard’

Next, right click My computer, properties, advanced, settings, under visual effects, select adjust for best performance.

Next, click the system restore tab, click the turn off system restore on all drives. (I block this at the AD level anyways though)

Next, double click My computer, right click on any drives, properties, and uncheck the ‘Allow Indexing Service to index this disk…’ (This search is terrible anyways, I’m looking for a good corporate replacement, google desktop works OK)

Disable Hibernation To disable, Right click the desktop and choose “Properties”. Select the “Screensaver” tab. Press “Power” and select the “Hibernate” tab. Uncheck “Hibernation”. (Not for a laptop)

Disable annoying Sounds

Start > Control Panel > Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices > Change the sound scheme. Beneath “Sound Scheme”, choose “No Sounds”.

Ok, now that the visual, audio, and operational tweaks are taken care of lets add some enhancements.

Hide the annoying help & support button off of the start menu

For Windows Classic Start menu, you need to modify the registry directly:

Click Start, Run and type Regedit.exe
Navigate to the following location:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Advanced

In the right-pane, create a new REG_DWORD value named NoStartMenuHelp
Double-click NoStartMenuHelp and set it’s value to 1
Close Regedit.

GET BACK CLASSIC SEARCH (REMOVE THE STUPID DOG!) this is for XP, server 2003 has the classic search

Add a new string (REG_SZ) called “Use Search Asst” – set the value to “no” and you will have the classic  search

Expand the control panel so that all the options are displayed off of the start menu

Right click start, properties, click customize next to the Classic Start menu, Click the check box next to Expand Control Panel (expanding network connections isn’t bad either)

Add copy To Folder and Move To Folder options off the right-click menu

To add the option, run the Registry Editor [Hack #68] and go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AllFilesystemObjects\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers. shellex tells you it’s a shell extension key that lets you customize the user shell or the interface. Create a new key called Copy To. Set the value to {C2FBB630-2971-11d1-A18C-00C04FD75D13}. Create another new key called Move To. Set the value to {C2FBB631-2971-11d1-A18C-00C04FD75D13}. Exit the Registry. The changes should take effect immediately. The Copy To Folder and Move To Folder options will appear. When you right-click on a file and choose one of the options, you’ll be able to move or copy the file

Add Open Command Window Here

Go here and download Open Command Window Here

Also install the image resizer, (It’s hidden in the right column… who designed this site it’s terrible)

Install UltraVNC, I love using this program to remote control our desktops. It’s fast, free, and uses AD authentication. I change the port to be different from the default.

I use my Global Domination App to monitor and remote control our workstations.

Install VLC, this way when users come to you trying to play strange file types this will usually handle it.

Install 7zip, take it from me, the built in windows xp zipping thingy is terrible. After install, open up the 7-zip File Manager, go options, under plugins click options, then check Open archive, Extract to <Folder>, and compress to <Archive>.zip and email (I don’t use any of the other menu options).

You may or may not want to install firefox 3, if you do, install the adblock plus plugin.

For burning CD’s I really like CD Burner XP Pro.

Install Defraggler, and set it to defrag the computer at night. (This is my not so scientific comparison of defraggler to other non free defraggers

To help bring your users into PDF goodness, install PDF Creator for printing to PDF’s

and then for opening PDF’s and annotating them! install PDF-XChange Viewer. (I like version 1.0 from 2007)

Install the .net framework 1.1, 2.0, and 3.5

Launch Folder Windows in a Separate Process

1. Open an explorer by going to Start > My Computer
2. At the top on the menu bar, go to Tools > Folder Options
3. Activate the “View” tab
4. Below, scroll down and check “Launch folder windows in a separate Process”  Apply the changes.

To let your users take screen shots easier you can install snippy.

To allow the moving of taskbar buttons install Taskbar Shuffle.

Turn on Internet explorer inline AutoComplete. To do so run Internet Explorer, Internet Options, Advanced tab, enable “Use inline AutoComplete”

Turn off “reuse windows for launching shortcuts” (I do this at an AD level)

Enable remote desktop

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server. Under the Terminal Server key, you’ll find a REG_DWORD value named fDenyTSConnection. Double-click on that value to open the Edit DWORD Value box and change the value data from 1 (Remote Desktop disabled) to 0 (Remote Desktop enabled)

(I do this through the AD as well)

To enable or disable Remote Desktop
Using Group Policies (best practice)

1. Open Group Policy.
2. In Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Terminal Services, double-click the Allows users to connect remotely using Terminal Services setting.
3. Do one of the following:
* To enable Remote Desktop, click Enabled.
* To disable Remote Desktop, click Disabled.
If you disable Remote Desktop while users are connected to the target computers, the computers maintain their current connections, but will not accept any new incoming connections.

Disable search Network Printers in Windows Explorer

Open My Computer, Tools, Folder Options, View tab, Uncheck “Automatically search for network folders and printers”, OK, “Apply to All Folders” button

Disable last access registry tweak

This change stops the recording of the last access of files on your network/local disk. File changes will still be recorded. If you need to record the last access of a file then disable this.

Regedit, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem
3. Create a new DWORD value in the right-hand pane named NtfsDisableLastAccessUpdate and give it a value of 1.
To remove this tweak just delete the key or give it a value of 0.

Restart your computer.

In addition

You may or may not have noticed that the default picture and fax viewer for XP can be quite lame. If for example you want to print a multi-page fax you have to click through a huge amount of buttons. If you, or anyone you support, needs a fax viewer that has easier printing support you can install the one that is included in Microsoft Office. To do this run Office Setup, Add or Remove Features, expand click office tools, click Microsoft Office Document Imagining select run from my computer, update.

Also add the compatibility crap for office 2007 files docx etc…

I like to install ImageResizer. Also remove the menu delay

Whew that is a lot of stuff. What do you put on your Perfect Corporate XP Workstation install?



  1. Have you got a script to make all those changes without all that clicking?

    Your WPKG page sorts out all the installs – have you got an example packages.xml you could post?

    Keep up the good work…


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