Edit 2 "I suck at googling":
Apparently I was googling for the wrong thing. I typed in "desktop shortcuts missing Windows 7" and I get this.
It looks you were right and they added it back into Windows 7. Ugh. . .
Odd that the documented method to disable this action is exactly what you did.
But the article also confirms that the shortcuts are deleted
Well, it isn't "Computer maintenance" or "Action Center" according to Wikipedia. They removed the "Desktop icon cleaner" in Vista. So if the icons have disappeared, I'd first check to see if they are hidden.
You can right click the desktop and under View, click "Show icons".
If System restore was turned off (God only knows why any admin would do that??), and it isn't a roaming profile, and you have no backups of their system, I'm afraid you are SOL.
Transitive: It is also not present in Windows 7
The issue can be caused by some scheduled tasks that helps you to
clear the shortcuts. Desktop Cleanup Utility is not present in Windows
It can be caused by some third party programs. Please specially pay attention to any system optimizing programs.
Another method is enable object auditing for the Desktop folder.
- Click Start, enter GPedit.msc in the Start Search box.
- Open the following branch.
Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local
- Enable the following policies:
Audit account logon events Audit object access
- Open Windows Explorer, open the folder C:\Users[username].
- Right click the folder “Desktop”, choose Properties->Security. Click the Advanced button.
- Click the Auditing tab. Click Continue.
- Click Add. Then click Advanced.
- Click the button Find Now.
- Wait for the process finishes. Then from the users list add the following users.
ANONYMOUS LOGON BATCH CREATOR OWNER Everyone Guests LOCAL SERVICE
NETWORK NETWORK SERVICE SERVICE SYSTEM
- After selecting each user, choose “Delete” and “Delete subfolders and files” as the auditing entries.
If you would like to check which account was trying to remove items in
the folder, please open Event Viewer, check the Windows Logs\Security
Log for detail information.
Since the issue occurs on every Monday, I suggest you enable this
policy on Sunday evening. Otherwise there will be plenty of events.
When you find that the shortcuts are vanished, please disable auditing
at once and check Event Log.
Arthur Xie - MSFT
By the way, you can disable the unused icons balloon from the Control
Panel. Go to your Display properties, click the Desktop tab, then
click on Customize Desktop. Uncheck Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every
60 days. To disable it by policy, enable the Remove the Desktop
Cleanup Wizard policy under the Desktop node. You’ll be relieved to
know that the Desktop Cleanup Wizard is completely gone in Windows
Vista and beyond.