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AAC Feature Focus: Show Desktop

January 18th, 2010

This is the second in a series of blog articles highlighting some of the non-obvious features of my popular Advanced Admin Console Add-In (AAC) for Windows Home Server. You can find a German version of this article over at www.home-server-blog.de.

As a user of the Advanced Admin Console Add-In you know that you can run external programs like Task Manager or the Windows Command Prompt from the Windows Home Server Console by utilizing the AAC toolbar. If you’ve read my first AAC Feature Focus article describing the Minimize feature, you also know that while you can minimize the WHS console and switch back and forth between multiple running external programs, you do not have access to the Windows Home Server’s Desktop.

Even though I see little reason for running a fully fledged desktop session with taskbar, start menu and everything on your server, I’ve included this feature in AAC Version 0.5.0 because many people were asking for it.

If you want to start a desktop session all you need to do is click on ‘Show Desktop’ on the drop down menu at the top right hand corner of the Advanced Admin Console toolbar:

AAC_FF_ShowDesktop

Advanced Admin Console will run explorer.exe which itself provides the taskbar, start menu and desktop functionality. You are now free to do anything on your WHS machine but remember: Windows Home Server was NOT designed to be used this way and Microsoft explicitly discourages users from doing so. Everything you do from there is at your own risk. Microsoft support services will most likely not help you with problems that arise from your fiddling with the WHS desktop.

That being said, have fun exploring your Windows Home Server!

Note: It is very likely that after clicking ‘Show Desktop’ you will see the taskbar only for a short time. Next thing you see is a full screen Internet Explorer window warning you from using the desktop too carelessly. After you close this window you will be brought back to the WHS console and the taskbar is gone. That’s when the Minimize feature of the Advanced Admin Console Add-In comes to the rescue: Just click the Minimize button in the lower right corner of the AAC window and you can finally start working with your server’s desktop.

There’s one final thing you should be aware of: When you close the WHS Console window on your client computer the Windows Home Server Console and any external program you started from it will keep running on your server. This is also true for the desktop session you launched using AAC. Because of that you really should log off from the server (either from the WHS console or the start menu) instead of just closing the console window. Otherwise one of the external programs or the desktop may prevent your server from going to hibernation or power off when it should.

The next installment of my “AAC Feature Focus” article series will explain the “Windows PowerShell” command on the AAC toolbar and why it doesn’t seem to do anything useful. If you don’t want to miss new articles simply subscribe to my RSS feed.

Categories: FAQ, Windows Home Server
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