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Everyday Windows Desktop Support, Advanced Troubleshooting & Other OS Tidbits

Troubleshooting Disabled or Missing Aero Features

Posted by William Diaz on July 13, 2012

After receiving a newly imaged workstation, one of our trainers noticed that the Use Aero Peek to preview the desktop feature was grayed out in the Task Bar properties:


We weren’t disabling this feature in GP, so I suggested they check the Performance Options from the Advanced System Settings to see if the Enable Aero Peek feature was enabled like in the example below:


Instead, the user’s workstation didn’t even have this feature available in the Performance Options:


We run the Windows System Assessment Tool (winsat.exe) at the end of the task sequence when we we deploy a Windows 7 image. WinSat runs a series of tests that stress the the various computer subsystems like CPU, RAM, Disk and Graphics performance and delivers a score, known as the Windows Experience Index, for each one. Windows 7 will then use this score to decide how personalize the Windows 7 experience to the system. Perhaps WinSat didn’t run after the end of the task sequence. You can quickly check this by right-clicking My Computer and going to Properties. It looks like WinSat did, in fact, run, however the total system score, based on the lowest score of any single subsystem, was only 1. Not surprisingly, the lowest score was the graphics score, which explains why the Aero Peek feature was not enabled:


The workstation should have no problem with all Aero features; it has a beefy graphics card. OK, maybe the graphics portion of WinSat failed to run. We ran WinSat again but the same score came back. Maybe winsat.log might reveal something. You can find the WinSat log in C:\Windows\Performance\WinSat. The log is not too verbose enough that you won’t be able to find the part you are looking for. In this case, the I could see that the a component of the DirectX API, Direct3D, could not be detected:

1127154 (5280) – d3d\dx9misc.cpp:1030: HRESULT = 8876086a
1127154 (5280) – d3d\dx9misc.cpp:1030: Error: Unable to create the D3D device
1127154 (5280) – d3d\dx9misc.cpp:1030: Error: Unable to check the capabilities of the video card because a d3d device could not be created

At this point, I was sure that the video graphics drivers did not install during the image deployment. To confirm, I asked the tech to use MSInfo32 to remotely view the display adapter, which can be found under Components > Display. Sure enough, the video drivers were not installed and Windows was using its own generic Standard VGA driver:


Resolving was simply a matter of installing the display drivers and running WinSat again. As for why the video drivers did not install during the image deployment, a change was made the night before the workstation was imaged to the task sequence that caused it (unintentionally) not to install the display drivers.


One Response to “Troubleshooting Disabled or Missing Aero Features”

  1. Grace said

    When Windows 7 Basic theme under Personalization is selected, Use Aero Peek to preview the desktop feature will be grayed out in the TaskBar properties too and Enable Aero Peek under Performance disappears too. But by selecting one of the aero themes back, these two options will come back.

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