One of the customers at my last Citrix project asked me the question, “Why does the application bar of this published application look so bad? I don’t like it!” The buttons were too big and everything looking “stretched.”
It looked like this:
The problem was easy to understand and to resolve. The Client on it was actually running was a Windows XP client with Windows themes enabled. Switching the user’s client to the “Windows Classic” desktop turned the application bar “Classic” and everything looked great:
Unfortunately the user liked the Windows theme and was not willing to switch to classic. So let’s improve his experience.
Windows Themes depend on a system service called “Themes.” To enable these cool-looking themes on a server, you need to change the Themes service startup type to “Automatic” since this service is disabled by default on Windows Server 2003.
Merely enabling the Themes service, however, is not enough to enable the new look for published applications. Each user would need to manually select the Theme that they want to use. Fortunately this is something that can easily be done with Group Policy. In my case I’m using “Loop-back” policies on all my Citrix or Terminal Server implementations, so these settings are applied only on users logging on to the Presentation Server. It doesn’t impact them users when logging on to their Clients.
To configure this via group policy, navigate to Users | Administrative Templates | Control Panel | Display | Desktop Themes
Open “Load a specific visual file style or force Windows Classic” and make the desired settings. In this case I made the Windows XP Luna Style the default Theme for all Users:
After the policy was applied to the user the published application has a completely new look and feel.
In the end I had a newly-convinced Citrix End User with a nice application bar and good overall look.
The only downside to enabling the Themes service on the server is that it will take more resources and most likely lead to fewer users being loaded on your server. However, in some cases, a nice interface is more important than getting a lot of users on a server.