Centralized lock screen and operating system power plan

  • Tutorial
One of the features that Microsoft’s latest client operating system is famous for is the ability to customize the background of the computer’s lock screen, which was so lacking in previous OSes, because of which users had to invent various tweaks and, in most cases, use third-party software products, which, by the way, could even harm the user's workplace itself. I think many people remember that if you do not want to use any third-party software, then you had to make changes to the OEMBackground and UseOEMBackground registry settings to create such a task in the same Windows 7, create pictures with specific screen resolutions and certain names and place them to the folder C: \ Windows \ System32 \ oobe \ info \ backgrounds. In short, a very tedious procedure for some little thing, without which, by and large, one could have lived.
Actually, now in Windows 8 it is much easier to change the images of the system lock screen, and this can be done, roughly speaking, by any user, including those who are afraid to even approach computers. That is, for this, on the same initial screen you need to click on the link “Change avatar” , and then in the group “Lock screen”the required picture is indicated. In other words, 4 clicks, not counting the search for the image itself. Well, nowhere is easier. But, again, even here there is one small limitation. By default, the operating system displays the lock screen for only 1 minute, and then the screen goes blank, and it does not matter if you are running on battery or mains. And, unfortunately, by default it is simply impossible to find any options that remove this restriction.
Here, of course, the following question may arise: “Can I somehow remove this restriction and add an option to the GUI?”. This is what we will do in this article. But to make it more interesting, we will do everything centrally for each user, that is, using Group Policy. Well, let's get started.
Due to the fact that the task will be solved by means of group policy, you can also make the picture set for the user on their own.
So, further on the program:
  • Setting the lock screen picture;
  • Detection of a parameter that is responsible for the waiting time before the lock screen goes off;
  • Setting such a parameter;
  • Testing the results.

We will begin now in order, namely with

Lock screen picture settings

Naturally, now we are in the user interface, that is, those four clicks that I mentioned in the introduction are not very interested, which means that we will change the image itself using the functionality of Group Policy.
In the latest client and server operating systems from Microsoft, of course, there are new policy settings in administrative templates that are used only for the latest functionality, and one of these parameters is the parameter responsible for applying a custom lock screen image. What should be done for this? Now, to make such a change, we will perform the following actions:
  1. In the Group Policy Management snap- in, you need to create a new one or select an existing Group Policy object, associate it with the unit that includes your target computers, and then open the Group Policy Management Editor for it;
  2. In the displayed snap should go to the node Computer Configuration \ Policies \ Administrative Templates \ Control Panel \ Personalization ( Computer the Configuration \ the Policies \ to Administrative Templates \ the Control Plesk Panel \ the Personalization ) and select the policy of " Application of the special image default screen lock » ( the Force a specific default lock screen image );
  3. Now in the dialog that appears, it remains only to set the switch to the “Enabled” option , and then in the corresponding text field you will need to specify the local or UNC path to the desired image.
    At this stage, due to the fact that each user will definitely not have the same required images in a specific folder, you can choose one of the following two options:
    • You can specify the UNC path for the image, which is located, say, on a dedicated file server, and user computers will load it when executing group policy;
    • You can use Group Policy Preferences to copy a specific image once to the image library of users who have installed exclusively the Windows 8 operating system, and already use the local file path in the corresponding text field.

    Since the article will also consider many different nuances, let us dwell on the first option with a UNC path. For example, as can be seen in the following illustration, this will be the path \\ SERVER02 \ Img \ LockScrn \ IM3.jpg:

    Fig. 1. Dialog box of the policy setting responsible for the lock screen images

In principle, this phase is coming to an end. That is, immediately after the user computer restarts, a new image will appear on his lock screen.

Search for a parameter that is responsible for the waiting time before the lock screen turns off

First of all, if you could not find the required policy setting among the available administrative templates, you should try to find the appropriate setting in the operating system’s registry that allows you to change a specific component of the system on the computer. How is this usually done? Naturally, to organize such a task, some monitoring of the registry should be carried out when such a parameter is changed. That is, it takes, for example, the same utility of Mark Russinovich Process Monitor, filtering is configured to display the required records, for example, in most cases, these will be the RegCreateKey and RegSetValue operations for a specific PID or process name. In some cases, of course, you need to monitor operations that allow you to delete specific parameters from registry keys. After that, naturally, among the displayed information, it will be necessary to localize the required entries in the registry, once again test the same parameters, but in the open registry editor, and, in fact, the tweak itself will be almost ready. It remains only in some way to extend such a parameter to your users or to their computers. The common methods, in principle, are not so few, or rather three: by creating a reg-file and distributing it by means of scripts for entry or autorun, by writing your own, let's say a custom administrative template, as well as by setting the registry preference item directly from the Group Policy Management Editor. Incidentally, in most cases it is advisable to apply the last two methods.
However, in this particular case, it is impossible to apply registry monitoring, since the desired parameter is simply absent in the graphical interface. It remains only to search for such a parameter in the registry editor manually. At first, it may seem that such a task from the category of “Mission Impossible”, but in reality everything turns out to be much simpler.
See, since it is most logical if the parameter that is responsible for the wait time before the lock screen is turned off is in the additional power settings dialog, the parameter that is responsible for the control panel components will change. This parameter should be displayed by any user on the computer, therefore, it will need to be searched for in the root HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE section. In principle, this already narrows the search.
We look further. The HKLM section can also be easily confused, since there are many sections where our parameter could “live”. Where to look? We change the parameter from the control panel - which means we should look for it in the SYSTEM section . Further, if you start to examine a little the contents of the registry of the Windows operating systems, it becomes clear that most of the control panel settings are located in the CurrentControlSet \ Control section .
Now, out of the whole set of registry keys, we have only a thousand sections left to search for the required parameter (s). But this is still a lot, and no one will review every available section and parameter. But here everything turns out to be simpler than it might seem at first glance. You can find a section like Power, which, obviously, is responsible for the power parameters. Well, the PowerSettings section is already responsible for the power parameters themselves . Thus, we have already come to the section that contains all the possible power options for Windows operating systems. The only thing left is to find the correct partition, and then localize the special parameter.
In the PowerSettings sectioneach child section, presented in alphanumeric format, is responsible for a group of parameters in the dialog box for additional power parameters. In other words, we need to try to find the correct section. How can this be done? In fact, everything here is also very simple. For each child section, you can localize a parameter called Description . Again, if you think a little logically, the parameter responsible for the screen fading should be in the dialog box in the "Screen" group . So, having localized the section with the description “Video and Display power management settings and configurations”, we can assume that we found the necessary section. This will be the 7516b95f-f776-4464-8c53-06167f40cc99 section .
The last thing left to do is find the section responsible for the required parameter from the screen section . Fortunately, there are only 10 child sections left, and this procedure will not take us much time. Here, each section also has Description parameters , where you can find out what exactly the received parameter will be responsible for. Take for example the first section, that is, section 17aaa29b-8b43-4b94-aafe-35f64daaf1ee . Using the section description, you can immediately understand that this section is responsible for the “Turn off screen after” parameter , since the description “Specify how long your computer is inactive before your display dims” can be translated as"Indicate how long the inactive computer will not go blank screen . " Here we pay attention to the fact that in this section the value of the Attributes parameter is two. We can draw the following conclusion: each section with an Attributes parameter value of 0x00000002 is responsible for the parameter that will be displayed in the GUI. Therefore, we need to look for a section in which the value of this parameter will be equal to one.

Fig. 2. The required registry key
This is already much simpler, since there are only five such keys . It turns out that the required key is the 8EC4B3A5-6868-48c2-BE75-4F3044BE88A7 partition , since it has an attribute value of 1, and the description is suitable. Change the value of the Attributes parameterby 2 and check if something has changed in the GUI.
As you can see in the following illustration, a new parameter has appeared in our dialog box, which is called the “Wait time before the console lock screen is turned off” . That is, we found the desired section, as well as a mutable parameter!

Fig. 3. The dialog box for additional power settings with a new parameter.
It turns out that the required section is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Power \ PowerSettings \ 7516b95f-f776-4464-8c53-06167f40cc99 \ 8EC4B3A5-6868-48c2-BE75-4F3044BE88A - necessary the Attributes .
In addition to this parameter, we will also need to predetermine its values ​​for the end user, since it is not a fact that users will generally look into the power settings. Everything is just as simple here.
In the section HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Power, you can localize the child section responsible for setting the parameters of the power plan. This is the \ User \ PowerSchemes section where you can find several unreadable sections, each of which is responsible for a specific power plan.
For example, in this example, we will work with the “Balanced” power plan , for the values ​​of the parameters of which the child section 381b4222-f694-41f0-9685-ff5bb260df2e is responsible .
The structure of this section is as follows: it contains child sections with custom parameters. In other words, if we predetermine the values ​​of the found parameter, then there should be sections 7516b95f-f776-4464-8c53-06167f40cc99 \ 8EC4B3A5-6868-48c2-BE75-4F3044BE88A7 .
Which parameters should be configured here? If you look at the values ​​for the “Turn off screen after” option , you can find two parameters here: ACSettingIndex and DCSettingIndex . Here, in hexadecimal format, the values ​​for the operation of the parameter on battery and from the mains should be indicated. For battery operation is responsible for setting DCSettingIndex , but from the network - ACSettingIndex .
Now, for sure, we have found everything, and this means that we can move on to the next phase - to the distribution of the parameter by means of the functionality of Group Policy.

Distributing parameters using GPO

The distribution of parameters by means of group policy in this example is most expedient to carry out by creating elements of preferences of Group Policy. In order not to write a lot of useless sentences that can be dispensed with, perhaps right away I will get to the point.
For greater convenience, we will modify the parameters found for all users who have Windows 8 operating systems throughout the organization. So, to distribute the values ​​of the registry parameters found to the target computers of users, we perform the following steps:
  1. First, in the Group Policy Management snap-in , create a new GPO, for example, New Power Settings , and bind it to the entire domain. After that, you can go to the Group Policy Management editor itself;
  2. In the displayed snap-in, expand the Computer Configuration node , and then go to the Settings \ Windows Configuration node and select the "Registry" node ( Computer Configuration \ Preferences \ Windows Settings \ Registry ).
    Since the registry settings that are responsible for additional power options can be attributed to one specific category, it makes sense for such created parameters to create a separate collection used to group such parameters. In principle, it is advisable to create such collections if one GPO will immediately include many system registry settings. To do this, click on the "Registry" nodeRight-click and select "Create" from the context menu , and then "Family Element" ( New> Collection Item ). A folder named “Collection” will be created in the console tree . You can rename such a collection, for example, in “Power Settings” , and then press the Enter key . The collection is depicted in the following illustration:

    Fig. 4. Group Policy Preference Registry Collection Element
  3. Now, in order to finally create a registry item, go to the collection you created earlier, right-click on the folder that you created, and select "Create" and " Registry Item " ( New> Registry Item ) from the context menu ;
  4. Now, as can be seen in the following figure, in the dialog box "New Registry Properties" , tab "General" ( of General ), you can select one of the four standard operators:
    • Create ( the Create ) - Create a new setting or registry key;
    • Replace ( Replace ) - deletion with the subsequent creation of an existing parameter or registry key with all nested parameters and child subkeys;
    • Update ( the Update ) - update identified in the preference item registry settings without removing the latter;
    • Delete ( Delete ) - removing said parameter or registry key.

    Fig. 5. The drop-down list of actions for the created Group Policy Preferences item.
    It should be noted that the “Update” action is selected by default , which is best left untouched in most scenarios of working with the current GPO preference item.
    After you select the desired action, you have yet to indicate in the new preference item the registry key, the parameter, as well as its value.
    In the “Bush:” drop-down list ( Hive) select the registry hive in which the parameter to be modified is located. You can choose any of the five available and, I think, known to you registry system bushes. It is worth noting that since the preference item was originally created in the “Computer Configuration” section, the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” section will be selected by default (otherwise, the HKEY_CURRENT_USER section would be selected);
  5. Textbox "Path registry» ( Key the Path ) allows you to specify the partition that contains the required registry value. It should be remembered that in this text box you do not need to specify a bush, and you do not need to specify a slash in front of the parent section, because otherwise the section will not be found. For example, in this case, you should specify the SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Power \ PowerSettings \ 7516b95f-f776-4464-8c53-06167f40cc99 \ 8EC4B3A5-6868-48c2-BE75-4F3044BE88A7 section .
    In the group “Parameter Name” ( Value name) you can specify the parameter that will be subject to change. In the event that you change the "Default" (@) parameter, check the box on the option of the same name. Since in most cases it is not necessary to change the default parameter, you can enter the parameter name yourself in the corresponding text field. In our case, the parameter is Attributes .
    The same parameter can be accessed by clicking on the corresponding button, which is located near the text field of the registry key path. With the help of display dialog "Browser registry entries» ( Registry Item Browser), you can easily localize the required section without entering it manually, and with it you can also select the required parameter. The dialog box of the element browser can be seen below:

    Fig. 6. Dialog box "Browser of registry items"
  6. Let's go back to the previous dialog box. Drop-down list "Parameter type» ( the Value of the type ) allows you to select the type of the parameter. Despite the fact that there are 15 data types in total, in most cases only parameters of the REG_DWORD, REG_BINARY, and REG_SZ types are used. Here we specify the DWORD value;
  7. Last text box available on this tab - a field "value» ( the Value data ) - allows you to specify values for the selected system registry entry. We will have the value 00000002 .

    Fig. 7. Properties dialog box of the created preference item

You can save changes. Now it remains to create as many as 2 registry settings. Let's get started.
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Power \ User \ PowerSchemes \ 381b4222-f694-41f0-9685-ff5bb260df2e \ 7516b95f-f776-4464-8c53-06167f40cc99 \ 8ec4b3a5-6868748f489a4f4b4a4f4b4aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
  • "DCSettingIndex" = dword: 000004b0
  • "ACSettingIndex" = dword: 00000258

Window snap Group Policy Management Editor created with three elements shown in the following figure:

Fig. 8. GPME snap-in with preference items created
Now, according to the condition, we should indicate to every preference item that it should be used only for computers running Windows 8. What should be done for this ...
In the properties dialog box of each preference item created earlier should go to the tab "General settings» ( the Common ), where you need to check the box on the option "Targeting element level» ( Item-level targeting is), and then click on the appropriate button. In the dialog editor targeting from the drop-down list of "New Item» ( the New Item ), select the item «Operating system» ( the Operating system ). There are very few settings for this item, namely: select the Windows 8 operating system from the Product drop-down list , select the required edition from the Release drop-down list , for example, Enterprise , and that’s it. You have already configured the filtering, and the preference item will only apply to computers that have the Windows 8 operating system installed.
Targeting dialog editor for discussion only that preference item is shown below:

Fig. 8. The window of the editor for targeting at the element level

Testing the results

The most important thing left is to check what we were able to do for the end user in all this time. In other words, a picture for the lock screen should be automatically installed with us, a new parameter should appear in the properties dialog for additional power settings, and the default settings for this parameter should also be changed. So, it's time to check this whole thing.
On the client computer using the gpupdate command with the / force and / boot optionsupdate the policy settings and, for certainty, restart the computer itself. After a reboot, a new picture should already be flashing on the screen lock screen. If something happened wrong, you should first check whether the parameter was applied using the resulting group policy, and also make sure that the correct parameters were specified in the policy parameter itself. Otherwise, everything should be as good as you can see from the following illustration:

Fig. 9. The lock screen on the target computer
Now, at the next moment: in our power settings dialog box, in the category of screen parameters, a new parameter should appear, and for such a plan as “Balanced”predefined correct, in our opinion, values ​​should already be indicated. Naturally, it makes sense to check whether it is. To begin with, you can try to open the registry editor and check 3 required parameters in it. If everything is in order with them, then practically you can not worry about anything. But, nevertheless, it is necessary to go to the very dialog box for the parameters of this power plan and check whether everything is as good as we would like. As you can see in the following illustration, indeed, the parameters were correctly defined, and now everything is beautiful (since the screenshot was not created on a laptop, the value of the “on battery” parameter is simply absent):

Fig. 10. New advanced power plan options

So ...

What did you learn about while reading this article? In this article, I talked about how you can perform several operations, namely: how to centrally install a custom image on the Windows 8 operating system lock screen, how to localize additional power plan parameters that were not originally available in the user interface, and how you can enable them and configure them immediately on many computers directly when using the functionality of Group Policy. I hope that this article was interesting for you and that you have learned something useful from it.
And, finally, colleagues, I have a small question for you: did you need to localize any additional power parameters, and how do you monitor and distribute parameters that can be found in the system registry but which are not in the set standard administrative templates?

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