Windows Server 2003 Disables the Blinking Cursor via RDP

After talking with Microsoft Support, cursor blinking functionality is programmatically disabled by design on the Windows 2003 Server platform for RDP sessions.

Dag Sjolund has just posted this message to the THIN list:

In preparing for an upgrade of a Windows 2000 Server-based terminal services farm to Windows 2003 Server, I have run into an issue with the cursor blink functionality on the Windows 2003 Server platform. After talking with Microsoft Support, cursor blinking functionality is programmatically disabled by design on the Windows 2003 Server platform for RDP sessions. This was not the case on Windows 2000 and NT 4.0 based platforms. Microsoft's reasoning for this design is likely anchored in the historically well known issue of bandwidth implications relating to a blinking cursor, coupled with the desire to make RDP protocol as "thin" as possible by default. Even though the cursor blink issue only had bandwidth implications in certain environments, the global disabling of this "feature" has ramifications in environments where available bandwidth is a non-issue.

The cursor blink rate issue is a big one as it relates to window/field navigation, especially for visually impaired users, and though a minor detail configuration wise, is a show stopper for the overall solution.

I have an active case with MS Support on this issue, though it is currently in a "We can't/won't change this functionality" stage.

This is very unfortunate, and I can see how it could become a show-stopper for some people. I would imagine that Microsoft will release a patch that keeps the default setting configured to not blink while still allowing administrators to override that setting as needed.

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This message was originally posted by jeff on March 12, 2004
Thanks for bringing attention to this issue Brian. Win2k3 Terminal Services with Session Directory and NLB has allowed us to provide a new higher level of service for our users. Eliminating the blinking cursor is an "optimization" Microsoft should have left alone.
This message was originally posted by Peter Loos on April 11, 2004
Hi, important - however bad message to me. We have cursor issues in a W2K-MFXP environment with published Oracle-Forms-Applications.
We haven't obtained any helpful hints form MS yet - all workarounds they provided failed.
We were hoping to get this resolved within an W2K3 env. which will obviously not happen.
However, we would support any RFC towards MS in that matter.
This message was originally posted by Bijay on June 20, 2004
Workaround from Microsoft
posted by Brian Madden on Thursday, April 22, 2004

Hi Brian,
Did this ever work for you? If it did, can u give me an idea what value you set for CaretWidth. Its not working for me.
This message was originally posted by dtmaniac on July 22, 2004
So far i know, the CarethWidth entry doesn't work with Win2003 it only work in an Win2000 enviroment. :(
This message was originally posted by Christian Schroeder on August 10, 2004
We ran into massive problems with various customers.

We want to migrate a huge Terminal Server Farm from 2000 to 2003.
About 2000 Clients are affected on almost 100 Terminal Servers. After testing we recognised that SAP-GUI crashes (looses connection). Using Citrix could help, but customer does not want to spend the extra money, because he would get no extra bebenefit from Citrix Solution.

Customer will stop 2003 rollout, if we can not give a fix and stay on 2K, cause this is working well.

Current state:

We opened a case through MS Germany in late June 2004. My information is, that MS has confirmed the business impact and gave the problem to Redmond for Code reengineering.
This message was originally posted by Christian Schroeder on August 12, 2004
We got the "personal" fix on 10-Aug-2004

2 files are replaced. One "old" registry key must be set.

SAP is blinking with SAP-GUI 6.20 on Terminalserver 2k3.

THX to MS-Japan (who did the reingennering).

best regards from Germany
This message was originally posted by No Blinky Blinky on September 2, 2004
Could someone post anonymous with details and location of the files (they may be old 2000 OS files). We run citrix FR3 on 2003 Server.

No Blinky Blinky
This message was originally posted by an anonymous visitor on September 15, 2004
I've very pleased of finding people with exactly the same problem as me. I'll use this recommendations on my Windows 2000 - Citrix server farm in order to make the cursor more visible.
You may according to KB873418.
And Ask PSS for that hotfix
For those wondering what this is about, here's a snippet from the KB article:

After you log on to a Microsoft Windows Server 2003-based computer by using a Terminal Services session, the cursor does not blink in programs. For example, the cursor does not blink at the command prompt and in programs such as Notepad. You experience this symptom even after you configure the cursor blink rate in the Keyboard tool in Control Panel.
Content of the informational message "change password" window, "your password must be atleast 0 characters, cannot repeat any of your previous 0 passwords and must be atleast 0 days old. Please type a different password. Type a password which meets these requirements in both text boxes." Anyone has seen this error message and is there a fix for it. Thx.
It's about time!  I hate blinking cursors!  If I need to know where the cursor is, all I have to do is use the arrow keys and voila! there's the cursor.  A non-blinking cursor is good thing and long overdue.  Microsoft should have offered a non-blinking cursor decades ago.
Hello all,
Maybe this isn't the right place but i'll give it a try...
For a month or so we are running Session Directory and Three terminal servers (w2003 Ent SP1). The SD server is a seperate one.
It working very good exept on Thin clients, they freeze or sessions are disconnecting! We are trying everything with .ini settings but nearly nothing helps.
We use Thin Clients from Wyse 1200LE an S10 with the latest firmware, anyone an idea of having the same problem?
Thanks in advance.