Why Doesn’t UE-V Like My Slideshow?

I came upon an interesting situation recently during a Windows 10 upgrade project. A pilot user on a new Windows 10 desktop reported that they changed their desktop background to a photo slideshow, but each time they logged in the wallpaper reverted to a single static picture. I investigated the most typical potential causes and confirmed that there were no Group Policies, logon scripts, or third-party products controlling this behavior. A deeper dive revealed that our profile management solution, Microsoft’s UE-V, was the culprit. 

UE-V contains a default template called ThemeSettings.xml, which, as the name implies, will capture and roam user-specified changes to the default theme set by the firm. A portion of this template captures the actual desktop background encoded image file so that the wallpaper can be successfully set to the same picture on a different machine. The problem with this is that the template only supports capturing a single image file, not multiple images as would be the case for a slideshow. As a result, the behavior we saw on our pilot user’s machine was UE-V successfully capturing the current desktop background but then, at next login, setting that image as a static background and removing the slideshow settings.

As UE-V is designed to be a much more lightweight profile management solution than traditional roaming profiles, it makes sense that only a single desktop background image is supported for roaming. If a user had several dozen (or even several hundred) image files in a slideshow, the UE-V theme settings package could get very large very quickly and would start to defeat the purpose of UE-V’s intended profile management improvements for speed and efficiency. There is no available logic in the UE-V template to capture only a certain amount or subset of image files, so therefore it is safer to limit the template to a single file and eliminate the possibility of generating massive settings packages, which would start to introduce other profile management issues.

What does this mean for users that want to change their background to use a slideshow of images?  In short, UE-V does not support the capture and roam of multiple image files, so the easiest option would be to use a single static background instead. Otherwise, the UE-V themes template can be modified to exclude the desktop wallpaper file, which would allow the slideshow settings to persist. The consequence of this, however, is that no background images would be captured or roamed to other machines. Users in IT might not find that to be much of an issue, but to many end-users those basic look-and-feel settings can set the tone of a successful desktop deployment and environment.