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Anybody who has used Vista and XP and likes to keep their Desktop items hidden most of the times would have noticed that this toggle is really really slow in XP, while almost instantaneous in Vista.

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Why is it so slow in XP? Any simple reasons or just too OS specific stuff?

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Probably not something known to the wide public. – zneak Aug 11 '10 at 5:26
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Changing the desktop icon visibility broadcasts a special message to all programs (WM_SETTINGCHANGE with an LPARAM of "ShellState"), telling them to refresh their cached system settings -- that is quite a lot of work. It's possible that the delay is caused by poorly written parts of XP's Explorer that have been optimized to run faster in Vista.

To make things worse, in XP the WM_SETTINGCHANGE message is unnecessarily sent twice.

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Always noticed this too. Also consider Internet Explorer is tightly integrated into Windows, and I suspect hiding the icons actually leverages Active Desktop, i.e. IE (heh), that always slows everything down. – invert Aug 17 '10 at 9:46
This - it's just poor design. – Shinrai Aug 19 '10 at 18:54

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