How-To Geek

Windows 7 Welcome Screen Taking Forever? Here’s the Fix (Maybe)

According to this Microsoft knowledge base article, if you’ve set your desktop to use a solid color background instead of a wallpaper, your system will hang for 30 seconds during the logon process.

Here’s what I’m talking about… the gray screen of death =)


The fix, of course, is to use a great desktop wallpaper instead! Luckily we’ve got you covered with a whole variety of them:

The other fix noted in the KB article, if you really want a solid color background image, is to make sure you’ve disabled the Desktop Window Manager (dwm) service, although you’ll lose all the great Aero effects. You might as well use Linux at that point.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/17/10

Comments (19)

  1. David Levine

    I’m shocked that something like this exists. I’m also shocked that someone would have a solid image wallpaper.

  2. Matt

    There’s a hotfix up for this already. No need to disable W7 features

  3. jpmays

    I don’t think that really works Geek. I’ve had my desktop background as wallpaper since the initial installation of Windows 7 Pro. But then again, I could be wrong about this not working. I just know that in my situation, the welcome screen has always taken an extraordinary amount of time.


  4. Henk

    (1) A better fix in the form of one very simple registry tweak can be found at Vishal’s blog, at – I tried it and it actually works.
    (2) The 30-seconds “hang” of the welcome screen is no real hang. In the background behind the “hanging” welcome screen, Window does continue anyway to load all your user-defined startup programs. So in most cases, while the welcome screen lingers around, this does not affect the total boot time.
    (3) As to the question why people would not use a desktop wallpaper, speaking for myself I can only say I find them distracting. I also consider most wallpapers I encounter on other people’s PCs a form of (sorry to say this) kitsch. I absolutely prefer a clean, simple, bare desktop. Mine is set to solid dark gray, with no desktop icons at all. You could actually think my PC is off, until you spot the taskbar. No gary sunflowers or foamy surf for me!

  5. PhoenixPath



    I’m using a solid tan background (less distracting and what-not) but really don’t want to disable Aero.


  6. PhoenixPath

    mn….it’s in the link in the article, just not mentioned by the author.

    Alternate fix: create the “solid background” in MSPaint, save it as a BMP and use that as your wallpaper.

    Amazing this went unnoticed for so long.

  7. Titan Boo-Boo


    Good idea, and instead of making the image your entire desktop size make it 1x1px and just set it to tile.

  8. Bob

    Worked a treat for me – I rarely see my desktop, and when I do, Its usually to watch TV or something which is less than full screen. Setting the background to black removed any distractions.

    The welcome screen usually lasted 20-30 seconds

    I installed the hotfix and the first time after logging on I got a message saying configuring personal settings for the destop. Second time round the welcome screen lasted 2-3 seconds.

    A big improvement, thanks for the tip

  9. Good_Bytes
    Above is teh beta patch from Microsoft onto the problem:

    Use Internet Explorer 64-bit (x64) to download the patch for Windows 7 64-bit, else the 32-bit version will be presented instead. The patch works great on my side (Win 7 Pro 64-bit).

  10. muchomosquito

    Ohhhh It seems impossible!! I’m so glad i am a Windows desintoxicated guy… we just don’t have time for this kind of little problems… change OS and get time for a beer!!!

  11. Cornflower

    Point to ponder; is there a difference in either loading time or resource usage between using a small bitmap tiled or using a large one untiled?

  12. Dastagir

    Welcome screen gets hanged in windows 7.I kept it for more than 20min but it didnt work.Can u help regarding this.

  13. Raimo


    I usually don’t post in forums, but after getting a Windows 7, to my surprise, I have a different problem every week that requires constant attention and fixing, of course. I have the same problem as you guys – a 30 second hang during the welcome screen is just .. preposterous.

    Regarding the hotfix, I will try it in a second. As for the solid color desktop image – yeah, I noticed that people in several forums point it out. So I got a bunch of windows wallpapers and changed them into lower quality JPG images, at first it seemed to work, but now I’m stuck with the problem again. It just seems unrealistic that even when you change the quality of a desktop wallpaper that this could still occur. Therefore, I reckon there can be several factors causing this issue, or, it can be something else.
    Or is it just that changing it to JPG doesn’t take away the ‘solid color’ quality?

    Let me know what you think.

    No harsh comments please, only constructive ideas welcome :)

    Thank you

  14. Bob Nunn

    I use desktop wallpaper and just love it.
    Of course a lot of my wallpapers are of out doors pictures
    and nature scenes.To me its like looking out the window
    and relieves boredom.
    Regards all,Maximum Bob

  15. Bob1001

    I am sorry to hear about your trouble Raimo. I had my PC made to my own specifications with 2.33 gigahertz Intel Core2 Quad Q8200 and 4 GB RAM and bought Windows 7 Pro off the shelf. It installed without problem, and in the five months I have had it, I have not had any problems. I am just wondering what security applications you are using. I have Microsoft’s Security Essentials and Windows 7 Firewall along with Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware and SUPERAntispyware. Sometimes commercial security suits are the cause of problems. Perhaps you could look into that.

    About the Welcome screen, my PC boots up very quickly, with no delay at the Welcome screen.

    Thank you The How-to Geek for the article and suggested fix.

  16. Bob1001

    Soluto Beta (Free) is a new program that can reduce boot-up time by watching your PC boot-up and reporting on what programs are unnecesary for start-up. By following some of its recommendations, I brought my Windows 7 boot-up time down from 1:39 minutes to 0.54 minutes. Give it a try, but it’s not infallible, so excercise caution!

    Thank you Soluto!

  17. dave g

    I create my own ’tiles’ ( remember Win95,98,XP?) I like that a design can repeat endlessly if configured intelligently. It is fun to experiment with.

    1.I use a simple self made design that I reduce to about 2″ by 2 “.
    2. I copy/paste it 4 times and place them side to side and test out the edges to make sure it lines up.
    3. they meet up as the four-imaged-’tile’. If not, i tinker, resize, tweak until i can copy a square from the middle and line ’em all up.
    4.I drag a square in the center, copy it, and begin placing the copies together to see how they fit as a seamless continuing pattern.
    I’ve created several, and have one basic structure that i can layer and re-layer to create depth in the image- they do appear 3-D id lit properly.

  18. omg

    omg you saved my life. I can’t believe it works. micro$oft u fail.

  19. Any computer

    If it only were 30sec. i just took +1min video of watching that “welcome” text for ever b4 it. I actually did took the battery out (powercord plugged) from my laptop after losing it totally.. and replaced it back on (other lock was open, so it wasn’t so properly attached, thats why all this). And then took that 1 min video shot.

    This is really lame testing from ms. What ever it is, it is the same trouble with both my laptops, IF I am not cableconnected to company network…

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