Is there something rotten in Windows XP theme-land?


The symptom

This week has seen something crop up I have never seen before on any Tablet PC.  I have three Tablet PCs all running either the Energy Blue theme or the Zune theme I recently mentioned.  I love both themes and they rock on the Tablet PC.  A couple of days ago something bizarre has started happening that is incredibly annoying, which I first started seeing happen on the Fujitsu P1610.  Randomly, when I resume from standby (usually while docked but not always), Windows XP resumes displaying the uber-ugly Windows Classic theme.  The graphics properties box still shows the theme to be my customized one but it’s switched itself to the gray Classic style.  The only solution is to go in and select a different theme, reselect my customized one using either Zune or the Energy Blue theme, and then reapply it.  This is a time waster for a mobile guy like me who is going into Standby and Resume multiple times per day.  It does not happen every time which is why it’s so bizarre, it’s totally random.

The scope

I mentioned that I have three Tablet PCs and shortly after it started happening on the Fujitsu it also started happening on the HP tc1100 and the Sony U71.  The symptom is exactly the same, resume from standby and find the ugly Classic theme.  I should mention that the Fujitsu is now my main machine so the other two are being used sporadically but it seems that it’s happening just as frequently on these devices as it is on the Fujitsu.  Once or twice a day for all three machines.

The hypothesis

The only thing common to all three machines that fits the time frame that the behavior started is Patch Tuesday.  Microsoft released several patches and since I have all three devices set to auto-update that happened with all three sometime late Tuesday night.  The odd theme problem definitely started occurring shortly after that and while I can’t say that is the definite cause it sticks out as the likely culprit because A) it is the only thing I can think of that is common to all three Tablets and B) the timing fits perfectly.

Am I the only one who is seeing this phenomenon?  If you have begun to see this happen what device is affected and when did it start?  Maybe we can figure this out together once and for all.



Thanks Dave,

I forgot to post an update to my previous post. My suggestion above did not work after all. My settings would be saved, but after three or four restarts would be mysteriously reset again. It was only a temporary fix. I tried your suggestions in the post above, and I’ve gone a week now without having my theme reset. Thanks a lot.


Tony – I tried your first solution (the kellys-korner REG file, not the dougknox VBS file). But it didn’t cure my Classic theme reverting to the green-Start-button XP Theme every time the PC reboots.

But, I have just now found the solution that DOES WORK for me:


Here is some of what he says on that page
{with MY settings in squiggly-brackets. Remember, I am trying to get XP to remember my preferred Theme (Windows Classic).}:

|start of quote |
Question: Why does Windows XP Style change to Windows Classic Style?

Other checkpoints:

1. Right click the My Computer icon/Properties/Advanced/Performance/Settings. Verify that: Use visual styles on windows and buttons is checked.
{My solution: Not checked}

2. Windows Explorer/Tools/Folder Options/View. User Common Tasks in Folders.
{My solution: I have a checkmark for “Display simple folder view in Explorer’s Folders list”}

3. Right click the Desktop/Properties/Appearance. Windows and Buttons choose: Windows XP style.
{My solution: On the “Themes” tab, I selected my slightly modified-then-saved Windows Classic Theme}

4. Start/Administrative Tools/Services. Scroll down to Themes and verify that the service is started.
{My solution: This is the important modification – I right-clicked “Themes” in the list, selected ‘Properties’ from the pop-up menu, and on the “General” tab, changed Startup Type from “Automatic” to “Disabled”

|end of quote |

Now, after approx 7 hours of My Life researching and experimentation, my desktop PC is actually able to remember my preferred theme! Amazing, so simple :-P


Had a similar problem with Classic reverting to XP on restart. Problem appears to have been use of Zone Alarm Free edition. Replaced Zone Alarm with Comodo Firewall Pro (free. Problem solved.


I had a similar problem with my Toshiba laptop. I had changed the sound settings so I wouldn’t hear the Windows startup and shutdown tunes, and reset the start menu and taskbar to have the Windows 98 look instead of the ugly XP green. I saved this as a custom theme. Windows saved my theme, but on restart, it always played the startup sound and reverted back to the XP taskbar.

I had seen several posts suggesting the “Save Settings on Exit” registry edit on line 54 at

I also found the following registry edit at:

Install on of the registry edits, restart, set the theme you want, restart again, and then see if it saved your settings. Both appear to do the same thing, and the second one appears to have worked for me. I thought I would make a post here, since no one so far has suggested those fixes. It worked for me, so maybe someone with similar problems can find some help here.


Unrelated to my posting above:

I thought I had come across a fix, but it turns out that XP is not capable of remembering this setting either!

The problem is “Use Visual Styles on Windows and Buttons” checkbox. According to Bill Mann’s very very very basic ‘Do Everything with Your Tablet PC’, this setting gives the distinctive curved window and button corners that are standard in Windows XP.

To get to that checkbox: Right-click on MyComputer – Properties – Advanced – in the Performance section click the Settings button – Visual Effects tab. In my case, where i want square, I uncheck “Use visual styles on Windows and Buttons”. Works; but upon reboot, XP proves brain dead, again :~(


Hello ‘JK on the run’ with your desktop in pocket:
( )

My problem is that I *want* the “Windows Classic” theme, but upon reboot the desktop always reverts to the ugly XP theme with the green cartoon ‘Start button’ and rounded window corners :( [I running WindowsXP with SP2 on a desktop PC]

I found this current post of yours while searching for a fix. I later found the following page,
“Registry Edits for Windows XP ‘Tweaks and Tips'”:

That Kellys page lists 391 rows of REG files in 2 columns.

I’ve listed here possibilities from that page that may shed some light:

— Row 30, column 1: “Windows XP Doesn’t Save User Settings”
— Row 214, column 2: “Windows XP Style Changes to Windows Classic”
— Row 261, column 2: ” Restrict Desktop Theme Controls”
— Row 271, column 1: “Stuck in Classic View? Undo Now”

I haven’t poked around his site to see whether he has any writeups explaining any of these REG edits.

Nor have I had the time to investigate these further [I’m a little scared playing with REG files].

Just thought I’d pass on what I found…


I had the same problem. I was on vacation from 12/20 – 12/31. When I got back I turned my computer on and it was working fine. When I woke up the next morning, my wireless mouse/keyboard werent registering and it was stuck in my screen saver, so I reset the pc and when it powered back on my taskbar was grey and everything looked stupid. And my iTunes wouldn’t load up either – I had to uninstall and reinstall it.

Anyways to fix it, try downloading this (it’s a backup of a clean Resources directory in /windows) and then copy the Luna file (it’s about 4MB) in the unzipped Resources/Themes/Luna/ directory to your C:/windows/resources/themes/luna directory. Then rechoose the Windows XP theme under your display properties. I backed up my orginal Luna file just in case. It got my blue taskbar back! Maybe it will work for you guys. I don’t know what the heck you are taking about with Zune themes.

– Jim


I’m currently suffering from the problem described…very frustrating! Every time I turn on my PC I have to change from the Windows Classic theme to the Luna (XP) theme.

I immediately thought it was connected to a windows update (I have auto updates enabled). I switched on my computer only to find that the problem has worsened – I now cannot have any wallpaper.

Has anyone any idea what I can do? Are there any specific updates I can roll-back?



Hmmm… I’ve allowed all of the updates on my SlateVision tablet and hadn’t seen any of the problems described. I wanted to wait to do the updates on my Toshiba R15 until more info was available. I searched Microsoft’s site for a while but hadn’t seen any mention of the problem so went ahead and updated the R15. After doing the updates on the Toshiba, I haven’t seen any of the problems there either. Both the Toshiba and SlateVision are running the Energy Blue theme.


Hi you guys!
I am having the exact same issue, but since a couple of months now! I use the energy blue theme, btw. Sometimes I get an error message accompanying the classic style, that says something about a failed application at a “location 78x… (lots of digits).
I checked some windows expert forums, but found no answer.


Jerad from Indiana


I’ve had the same problem on all three of my computers (custom-built desktop, Lenovo T43, and HP tc4200). I do not have a Zune, and all three computers have a hacked uxtheme.dll to allow un-signed themes/visual styles.

I’ve also experienced crashes and lockups using the Microsoft Picture Viewer when I set the image as a desktop wallpaper.


i have the zune on my q1 and have disabled all of my windows updates. i have no issues with my zune theme resuming from standby.


Just started getting this. The recent Windows updates I see are KB904942, KB914882 and KB914440. I tried uninstalling KB914440 and that didn’t fix it. The others I’m too afraid to uninstall because of the warning about breaking things. ;-)


I’m using the Zune theme on the Mac Book Pro C2D and haven’t had a problem but I also haven’t applied any patches. I guess I will wait to see.

Mark Polino, CPA

I have the same problem and Tuesday sounds about right. I haven’t been paying attention because the OneNote 2007 trial screwed up my desktop search in Outlook. I’ve been to busy trying to fix that, oh yeah and deal with a year end audit, to pay attention. But you’re right, I have the same issue.


Colin Walker

I’ve had an issue the past couple of days with my work PC.
I’ve got the Zune theme installed and the Explorer.exe process keeps hanging and taskman shows it using 50% CPU.

I’ve changed back to luna and it’s ok.

The only thing is, our patches won’t get pushed out until this weekend so that’s not the cause here.


I have seen the exact same senario happen this week. I’m using the Zune theme that you originally found. I am currently using the Gateway Cx2610 and a Samsung Q1. It also started this week.

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