Ezine #118 – Does Vista Have a Registry?

Yes, of Course Vista Has a Registry

With all Microsoft’s talk of Vista being redesigned from scratch, I was eager to see what happened when I typed ‘regedit’ in Vista’s ‘Start Search’ dialog box.  The answer was the same as for XP, yes there was the registry, and there at the top were the usual hives, HKCU and HKLM**.

Here are my preliminary findings, based on about a fifty experiments with Vista’s registry.  80% of my favourite registry hacks work just the same as they did in Windows Server 2003 and XP, for example, AutoAdminLogon.  About 20% of my favorite hacks are now unnecessary because Vista performs that particular task without the need to edit the registry, for example, SourcePath.

You may be able to help me here; to date, I have not found many good hacks specifically for Vista.  What I am hoping is that it’s early days, and gradually new ‘cool’ registry changes will emerge, as more and more people experiment with Vista.  Therefore, if you find a good registry hack specifically for Vista, please send it to me and I will publish your finding, along with a credit to you.

One unexpected development is that I discovered registry hacks in Vista, I did not know existed in XP and Windows Server 2003, for example PaintDesktopVersion, which displays the Build Number.

An Example of a Registry Hack for Vista, XP and Windows Server 2003PaintDesktopVersion Display Windows Vista Build 6000

Here is a registry hack to display the Windows Build Number e.g. 6000 in Vista, 3790 in W2K3, or 2600 in XP.

During the Vista Beta program, it was important to display the correct Build number, so that you could see which version you were testing.   Many ‘techies’ were disappointed that the final production version of Vista did not display its badge of honour – ‘Build 6000’. This omission prompted some of us to do a little exploring in the registry, and we came up with a key called PaintDesktopVersion.

Instructions for PaintDesktopVersion ( Works in Vista, XP or W2K3)

  1. Launch Regedit and navigate to this key:
  2. HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
  3. Scroll down and find the existing entry called PaintDesktopVersion.  Double click and change its value to numeric 1.  Please note that there is no need to create this DWORD, as it’s there already.
  4. Check you now see: PaintDesktopVersion = 1
  5. The default is PaintDesktopVersion = 0 meaning do not display the build number.  Incidentally, this DWORD is also found in XP and Windows Server 2003.

Key Points

  • Do you find the PaintDesktopVersion value in HKCU** or HKLM? 
    Answer: HKCU
  • Should you add a value, or modify an existing setting? 
    Answer: Modify 0 –> 1
  • Is PaintDesktopVersion a String Value or a DWORD? 
    Answer: DWORD.
  • Do you need to Restart, or merely Log Off / On? 
    Answer: Log Off –> Log On and view: Build 6000
  • Tip: Add this Value, PaintDesktopVersion to Regedit’s Favorites menu


** HKLM is an abbreviation of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, and HKCU is shorthand for HKEY_CURRENT_USER.  These acronyms are so well-known that you can even use them in .reg files, Vista will understand and obey the registry instruction.

See a Windows 8 registry hack SkipRearm.

Guy’s Registry Mission

My mission with the registry is to give people confidence and experience of regedit.  I want to prepare them for that day when something serious happens to their computer, and the only cure is a registry edit.  It helps if when you are following a TechNet article on how to edit the registry, that you have previous experience with regedit.

One of the secrets of life is to combine business with pleasure. I also believe that learning should be fun, and so many of the registry hacks are pure enjoyment, for example MenuShowDelay.  Also,  However, and this is a very big – however, you can only become and expert if you have gone through Guy’s five stages of registry editing, Fear, Wonderment, Complacency, Panic and finally Respect. See more on Guy’s 5 Stages of Registry Hacking

The two keys to avoiding Complacency and Panic are, firstly, always export the registry branch before you make a change.  Secondly, at an early stage in your career, take the time to master remote registry editing.  Well, that’s all from me, good hacking, and please send me any new Vista registry settings that you find. 

Guy Recommends: Tools4ever’s UMRAUMRA The User Management Resource Administrator

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Will and Guy’s Humour

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