I recently discovered that Windows 7 is displaying a Windows XP style monitor icon when I view the properties window for the computer (e.g. Control Panel - System and Security - System). See the screenshot below.


Why has this happened? Is there a way to correct it? I know how to change icons in Windows but I just don't know if I will be able to change this one. It doesn't do any damage (not that I'm aware of anyway) so it should be harmless. But it is quite annoying. I certainly don't expect this from a modern operating system in year 2014, not being able to handle a simple thing like icons...


I was using the new Windows 7 computer remotely from an old Windows Vista computer. That's why I was seeing that. When I log on to the Windows 7 locally it shows the correct icon/image.


I also have another Windows 7 computer and when I log on to that one remotely from the Vista it does exactly the same thing. So the problem is not specific to the new computer, this happens every time I log in remotely using RDP (mstsc.exe).

But isn't that odd? The computers are all on my LAN and I have all the bells and whistles selected in mstsc.exe when I connect. I checked the display options (in mstsc.exe) and it's set to 32-bit color depth. The performance (network bandwidth) is also set to highest.

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Yet I still see the outdated, old school icon in the control panel of the remote computer, as if it's in some weird 16-bit or 256 color mode? This doesn't make sense at all. Is it a bug? Or just the usual way of doing business at Microsoft? Or maybe both?... I don't see why it should be doing this if I specifically set the color depth to 32-bit.

I see that the Aero Glass effects are gone as well when logged in remotely. As if the remote computer switches to generic Microsoft graphics driver when connected to remotely?!? While this doesn't do any damage it's certainly annoying that Windows misbehaves like this, and not having a unified user experience. Some features are missing when you don't have the Aero enabled, which may or may not effect productivity (e.g. Aero Peek). Windows should not operate in this reduced feature set, as if using Windows in safe mode.

The sfc /scanfile=%systemroot%\branding\shellbrd\shellbrd.dll command returns "Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations" on the Windows 7 computer.

I haven't tried connecting remotely from a Windows 7 computer to a Windows 7 computer. I don't expect to see a different behavior, but I could be wrong, because I believe Windows 7 has a more recent version of the Remote Desktop client than that of Vista.

Update 2:

Yup! As I suspected! It has to do with compatibility between Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows Vista Ultimate computers. See my answer below.

  • I will assume that my precious Windows has got influenza and is now sick?... I better prepare for the worst. I've been there and seen all sorts of funny things happen to the Windows interface when a computer gets infected. Even though it's not very likely, as this is a desktop computer, it's behind a firewall and I only did a clean install last month. But you can never know what kind of surprises Windows has for you in store.
    – Samir
    Feb 2, 2014 at 15:35
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    The old monitor image is used when you have a 256-color resolution. The actual image is usually stored in the C:\Windows\Branding\ShellBrd\shellbrd.dll file. Maybe the file is corrupted, or Windows is not detecting the screen resolution properly for some reason; try resetting it, just in case.
    – and31415
    Feb 2, 2014 at 17:01
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    @and31415 gave a good answer, but just to elaborate: I would recommend running sfc.exe from the command line to make sure. Probably best to do it for all files, sfc /scannow, but you could just scan that file, sfc /scanfile="C:\Windows\Branding\ShellBrd\shellbrd.dll".
    – dgo
    Feb 3, 2014 at 0:45
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    The color depth should be at 32-bit, but what I haven't told you is that I was using Remote Desktop. I didn't think it was relevant. See the update. The two computers do however have different resolutions. But that should not be an issue? Well, at least I now know it's not a virus.
    – Samir
    Feb 3, 2014 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


1. The old style, low resolution (and ugly) monitor icon/image is displayed instead of the new style, high resolution (and pretty) Windows logo icon/image when you log on to a Windows 7 (Ultimate) computer remotely (remote session). There is no reason for Windows 7 to display this old icon, just because it's in remote session, and/or Aero Glass is not enabled. This is a (minor) bug - one of those cosmetic things that Microsoft doesn't pay any attention to until the next major version of Windows.

2. The Aero experience (theme) is not available if you are logged on to a Windows 7 (Ultimate) computer from a Windows Vista (Ultimate) client computer. This is because of lack of support. Windows Vista does not seem to support Aero in remote session. It doesn't work in neither direction (Windows 7 host and Windows Vista client, nor Windows Vista host and Windows 7 client). Nada! Zero!

3. For seamless and best possible user experience, use the same Windows version on all computers. This is not an issue between two Windows 7 (Ultimate) computers.

  • I have to admit I did think about Remote Desktop being involved, but you didn't specify that was the case at first, so I just assumed it was something else. Good to know you sorted it out.
    – and31415
    Feb 5, 2014 at 23:30
  • Yeah, I know. I should have mentioned that from the get go. As far as the icon/image goes, it's possible to tweak it (and twerk it if you will) to your own liking. But it's just not worth it IMO. I will just have to upgrade the Vista computer to Windows 7.
    – Samir
    Feb 5, 2014 at 23:56

Even though you have all "bells and whistles" enabled, RDP will self adjust so that it provides you best performance (and that by default means that you can't have Aero, as that is both CPU and GPU intensive). Still, you can use the steps detailed here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2009/06/23/aero-glass-remoting-in-windows-server-2008-r2.aspx to get Aero (check the requirements first, though).

  • And this is supposed to work on client operating systems as well? Like Windows 7 Ultimate and Vista Ultimate? The article title says "Aero Glass Remoting in Windows Server 2008 R2". I don't have the "Server Manager" UI, it's only available on Windows Server. But I do have "desktop composition" (whistle) enabled under Experience tab. But I take it that's not enough?
    – Samir
    Feb 5, 2014 at 21:16
  • I don't even have the "Allow desktop composition for remote desktop sessions” policy either. There is the "Optimize visual experience for Remote Desktop Services sessions" under Remote Session Environment on Windows 7 Ultimate (but none on Vista). This policy is not configured. "If you disable or do not configure this policy setting, Remote Desktop Services sessions are optimized for rich multimedia." Doesn't this mean Aero will be enabled by default for a remote session on that computer?
    – Samir
    Feb 5, 2014 at 21:20
  • If you know a way to enable Aero for a remote session on a Windows 7 Ultimate client computer, could you please post step by step instructions? I can't fully follow the Windows Server 2008 R2 instructions found in the article above, as I don't have Windows Server.
    – Samir
    Feb 5, 2014 at 21:24
  • "The remote computer is not required to have Aero-capable hardware, so connecting to a virtual machine or “headless” server machine still provides Aero support, assuming the client machine has an Aero Glass-capable graphics card installed." Which is true in my case. Both computers are capable of Aero Glass. "If the remote computer is a Windows 7 client machine, the ability to support Aero Glass remoting is enabled by default." This might have to do with Win Vista <-> Win 7 compatibility.
    – Samir
    Feb 5, 2014 at 21:31

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