Windows problem: The color scheme has been changed to Windows 7 Basic

A week ago I posted in Microsoft Forum about my continuing ATI / AERO problem.

This problem started to appear after I could not make my ATI Eyefinity work with 3 monitors. What I did, is added another old ATI card, so now I have two ATI cards with 3 monitors.

Here is what I wrote in MS Forums:

My configuration:

  • Intel i7 with 12GB of RAM
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • Two ATI cards:
    • ATI Radeon 3450 (512MB)
    • ATI Radeon 5750 (1024MB Gddr5)
  • Three monitors – 1920×1080, 1280×1024, 1680×1050

The problem:

  • at random Aero theme switches to Basic
  • last two times it was It seems that it always happens when I was connected to Remote Desktop to Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit

Error massage in Systray:
The color scheme has been changed to Windows 7 Basic
The current color scheme has exceeded its allowed memory so the color scheme has been automatically changed to improve performance. Click to see more information.

The color scheme has been changed to Windows 7 Basic.

If I click for more info, it opens Windows Help with some info, like “A program that you’re running is incompatible with Aero themes.”, “Your laptop might be running low on battery power”, “Your computer’s hardware configuration or screen resolution was changed.”, “Your computer does not have enough memory to run all of the programs” and “Click to open the Aero troubleshooter.‌”

Aero troubleshooter.

  • Troubleshooting couldn’t identify the problem.

Also, I fully understand that “A program that you’re running is incompatible with Aero themes.” sometime kicks in, for example using Oracle SQL Developer, but this is not a case.

Workaround / temporary fix

  • I right click Desktop – Personalize, then I choose any theme (does not matter if Aero or not), then again on my theme, and Aero works again till I open Remote Desktop, then after a couple minutes problem reappears.

I am not alone
There are many users with two video cards (Windows 7 and Vista) that have the same problem:


It can not be ATI drivers, because other users have similar issues with nVidia cards. I have ATI drivers:

  • Driver Date: 3/2/2010, version 8.712.0.0
  • ATI Catalyst 10.3 Suite for Windows 7 (64 bit)

After a week

Jetta48 said that this is something to do with ‘Mirror drivers’, but I couldn’t confirm that, because this problem is reproducible with 3 monitors and 2 video cards, but with one card and two monitors everything works without any problems.

Today (28 Apr) Debra-Support Engineer asked if I got through Guided Help: Troubleshoot Aero problems in Windows 7 (kb 976170). It seems that this is the same troubleshooter, that is offered right after problem appears, and the result is the same:
Troubleshooting couldn’t identify the problem. (You can try exploring other options that might be helpful. Explore additional options (that leads to Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Troubleshooting\Additional Information). Close the troubleshooter)
Troubleshooting couldn't identify the problem

Update 30 Apr.

I am very certain, that issue appears only when Remote Desktop Connection is open.

Another workaround is to use Remote Desktop in non-full-screen video mode. In this case, occasionally Banner pops up, saying:
Windows has detected that your computer’s performance is slow – Click to see more information and options.

Screen shot:
Windows has detected that your computer's performance is slow

If you click on it, it says (used copy / paste):
[Window Title]

[Main Instruction]
Do you want to change the color scheme to improve performance?

The current color scheme, Windows Aero, is using most of its dedicated memory, which can result in slower computer performance. To free up some memory for better computer performance, try closing some open windows or changing the color scheme to Windows 7 Basic.

[Keep the current color scheme] [Change the color scheme to Windows 7 Basic ]

How do I decide whether to change the color scheme to improve performance?

Screen shot:
Do you want to change the color scheme to improve performance

Update Apr 26, 2013.
Thanks to Jean Marc!

Well I THINK I found a solution to get rid of the messages, it seems to work for me without any problems, please give me some feedbacks on your results.
I am using three monitors with different cards and I get the message like you guys.

  1. Open the Start menu, and type gpedit.msc in the search line and press Enter
  2. In the left pane, go to :User Configuration, /Administrative Templates/Windows Components, and Application Compatibility.
  3. In the right pane, right click on Turn off Program Compatibility Assistant and click on Edit
  4. Select disable to turn it off, and vice versa when you want to turn it back on.

It seems to work fine for me.
Give me some feedback on this please.

40 thoughts on “Windows problem: The color scheme has been changed to Windows 7 Basic”

  1. I have this exact same issue, except it occurs for me when I’m trying to run a virtual machine while also performing a screen capture.

    There doesn’t appear to be anyway to get rid of this. I’m not sure why it keeps saying this. I have 6gigs, of which 2-3gigs is free when the issue occurs.

    Also says, Windows 7 has detected that your computer is running slow, even when it’s running just fine.

  2. I have the same issue, dual gpu ATI 5750’s, dual screens. Whenever I use teamviewer it pops back to basic. I think this is an error in windows which makes it unable to utilize both cards for graphics memory. I hope somebody figures it out. I did not have the same problem when i had only one card with 1gb mem, and was running the same monitors.

  3. New guy here, same problem. I am running an I7 920 with 6GB Ram, my video card is an ATI 3870 X2 (2 chips on one card), OS = Win 7 64bit. I have a two monitor set up but one is a 2560X1600 30″ display and the second is a 1920X1200 24″ display, so LOTs of pixels. When I do something mildly intensive like open multiple AutoCAD drawings I get the “color scheme has exceeded it’s allowed memory” message and I am switched to Windows Basic. Monitoring my resources I never even hit half used so what is the deal? I have read a number of message board posts with this same issue and there seems to be some commonalities:

    1. Windows 7 64-bit

    2. Core I7 chip

    3. Multiple GPU chips

    4. Multiple monitors

    If anyone out there has this issue but one of these four does not apply to you please post a reply. I would love to get to the bottom of this.

  4. I am running into this problem seemingly at random.
    I find this seriously weird, since I can render huge images with both the CPU and the GPU used in the calculation, I can open like ~100 tabs in a zillion Firefox windows, anything like that, and nothing happens. I always have a lot of processes running (teamviewer, backups, ssh clients, stuff), and usually at least 2GB of free physical memory.
    Then out of the blue dwm.exe just crashes without any good apparent reason.

    Intel X3220 @ 3.6GHz
    4GB DDR2
    HD4850X2 2GB
    Two 1280×1024 and one 1680×1050
    Win 7 x64

  5. I remembered someone mentioning that re-running the Windows Experience Index might fix the problem. I checked my System menu in Control Panel and it told me that the assessment has to be re-run. I did that about a week ago, and so far no more problems.

  6. Started getting this just recently: Core 2 Duo cpu, 6GB DDR2, two screens powered by a 4890 1GB and also the motherboard’s Intel video (I also have a TV connected to the second output from the video card, hence the use of onboard to achieve 3 monitors at once). I’ve had that setup working fine for some time.

    Same story – no real resource problems, just the little warning icon about slow performance detection near the clock, then bam, aero gone until I switch a theme in and out.

    I can cause the problem to occur on demand by opening Firefox 4.0b6, it seems. I am going to investigate that next.

  7. Followup – the problem only appears for me when Firefox is running on the monitor driven by the onboard video. Since Firefox 4.0b6 is now hardware accelerated, I’ll be off to my BIOS to see if I can allocate more system RAM to that video.

  8. This is happening to me to. It’s getting really irritating. At first I didn’t mind the pop up every 5 minutes, but now it changes to Windows Basic without even warning me. I hope there’s some way to disable this message. Weather it involves using the registry editor or not.

  9. I’m having the same issue but only when I use IE9 Beta. It doesn’t necessarily happen immediately and some pages trigger it more rapidly than others. I am using 2 ATI HD4870 cards and 3 digital flatscreen displays. At times I get the pop-up warning me and other times it simply switches to basic mode.

  10. I recently posted that I’m experiencing the same issue when I use IE9 Beta. I am using dual ATI HD4870s and 3 flat screen displays in digital signal mode. Through experimentation I’ve discovered if I open IE9 on the dispay attached to my primary video card I no longer have the problem. If I move it to one of the displays on my secondary card it reappears. I have 1 display on my primary card and 2 on my secondary card.

  11. Hello,
    Did you find how to solve this problem ?
    I’m using Teamviewer and this is happening continously. I’ve contacted them, but they just got me a standard FAQ nonsense answer.
    Thanks in advance.

  12. Here is a quick fix, however I believe there might be a registry key that can be modified to increase this memory limit:
    [1] Open Task Manager (shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+ESC)
    [2] Open Processes tab
    [3] Find dwm.exe
    [4] End Process

    My problem with getting this issue is after having started to use custom themes (after patching shsvcs.dll, themui.dll, uxtheme.dll, explorer.exe, ExplorerFrame.dll, shell32.dll, and timedate.cpl)

    The theme I’m using, in case anyone is interested, is Appows.

  13. It seems like I have found the root cause of [my] problem. I was too many streams.

    More specifically, I am streaming my webcam and desktop on ustream using ManyCam through Firefox in sandboxie. Somewhere in there it’s doing something that Windows feeling extra sensitive to.

  14. thanks alot Eric J now since i ended the task of dwn.exe i had to restart the computer to get the aero glass theme back up!!!!!! that did not fix ANYTHING!!!!!

  15. Thought I would also chime in. Same issue, particularly with Silverlight, RDP, and watching videos. Windows 7 64bit, Quad core i7, 16GB RAM, 2 x ATI 4650 video cards with 3 monitors. Very frustrating. Anyone else using UltraMon?

  16. Thanks for posting all the details of your problem clearly. I’m running into a similar – not the same, but close enough – and would love to find a registry fix or something.

  17. I also got this problem – after upgrading my memory… NO other changes.. Have older ATI graphic card. Worked fine for almost 7 months before upgrading the memory.

  18. Same issue here, just added a 3rd monitor and got the issue. Win7 64bit Intel core2, 8G of memory. No issues with two monitors. Using 2 Dell ultrasharp 22″ and 1 ultrasharp 24.” At first I thought it was my card so I swapped it out for another one and it made no difference.

    Re-ran the assessment tool but haven’t noticed a difference as of yet.

  19. This has plagued me on 2 desktops now. I currently drive 5 monitors with two identical radeon 5770 cards, and am getting the issue again. And i say again because my previous workstation was using two nvidia cards to drive the 5 displays. Certain applications definitely trigger the change. IE 9, Firefox 4, and Full Screen silverlight or flash video for sure. There are registry entries to force aero, but that only helps a little bit, nothing I’ve tried actually solves the problem. This is beyond frustrating at this point for me. Over a year now with this issue. I was hoping SP1 would fix it, but no luck there either. There is no way i can move down to 1 video card, so i supposed I’m just stuck with this.

  20. Same issue here on a Dell Optiplex 980
    Core i7 860
    8GB Ram
    Two Radeon 4550 w/512MB each(was the best Dell offered on that model)
    3 LCD monitors with 1 Rotated
    Win7 x64

    Only seems to happen when using Internet Explorer 9 or Firefox 4 on one of the other monitors.

    I have the latest ATI Drivers (Catalyst 11.3) and other driver updates and EFI/BIOS updates.

    I have not installed SP1 for Windows 7 X64 but I am not sure that would do anything to solve the issue.

    I can run other programs like my XP Virtual Machine and Instant Message windows and even MS Office Applications and it does not cause the issue. I have even played videos using a TV-Tuner and through Media Player without an issue. This problem only seemed to happen when I upgraded to Firefox 4 and used that and I recently upgraded to IE9 and it happens in there displaying only regular web pages too. It is very frustrating.

    If anyone has insight to this you can email me at bobiroc76 at gmail

  21. I have now started having this problem too. I had just upgraded to Firefox 4, so I suspect it has something to do with that and its new hardware acceleration and/or aero features.

  22. Here is how to fix it, uninstall your NEW intel chipset driver. (and see color theme issue still pop or not) If it no longer show up. Please spam intel support’s email box. Because they still haven’t fix it yet FROM NOW.

  23. I had hoped someone here would be able to tell me how to increase the memory in say — the registry. Perhaps that is the correct solution. In any case — here is my system info if it helps.

    Noticed the problem while running a combo of:
    Ms IE 9
    Mozilla Firefox 8.0
    –NOTE: Personal Info IP etc. removed.

    Host Name: {computername}
    OS Name: Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise
    OS Version: 6.1.7601 Service Pack 1 Build 7601
    OS Manufacturer: Microsoft Corporation
    OS Configuration: Standalone Workstation
    OS Build Type: Multiprocessor Free
    Registered Owner: {username}
    Registered Organization:
    Product ID: {Product_ID}
    Original Install Date: 9/14/2011, x:x:x PM
    System Boot Time: 12/12/2011, x:x:x PM
    System Manufacturer: System manufacturer
    System Model: System Product Name
    System Type: x64-based PC
    Processor(s): 1 Processor(s) Installed.
    [01]: Intel64 Family 6 Model 26 Stepping 5 GenuineIntel ~2656 Mhz
    BIOS Version: American Megatrends Inc. 0702 , 3/16/2010
    Windows Directory: C:\Windows
    System Directory: C:\Windows\system32
    Boot Device: \Device\HarddiskVolume1
    System Locale: en-us;English (United States)
    Input Locale: en-us;English (United States)
    Time Zone: (UTC-07:00) Mountain Time (US & Canada)
    Total Physical Memory: 24,567 MB
    Available Physical Memory: 21,581 MB
    Virtual Memory: Max Size: 49,132 MB
    Virtual Memory: Available: 45,740 MB
    Virtual Memory: In Use: 3,392 MB
    Page File Location(s): C:\pagefile.sys
    Domain: {workgroup|domain}
    Logon Server: \\{computername}
    Hotfix(s): 61 Hotfix(s) Installed.
    [01]: 982861
    [02]: KB971033
    [03]: KB2305420
    [04]: KB2393802
    [05]: KB2425227
    [06]: KB2476490
    [07]: KB2479943
    [08]: KB2484033
    [09]: KB2488113
    [10]: KB2491683
    [11]: KB2492386
    [12]: KB2503665
    [13]: KB2505438
    [14]: KB2506014
    [15]: KB2506212
    [16]: KB2506928
    [17]: KB2507618
    [18]: KB2508272
    [19]: KB2509553
    [20]: KB2510531
    [21]: KB2511250
    [22]: KB2511455
    [23]: KB2515325
    [24]: KB2518869
    [25]: KB2522422
    [26]: KB2529073
    [27]: KB2532531
    [28]: KB2533552
    [29]: KB2536275
    [30]: KB2536276
    [31]: KB2539635
    [32]: KB2541014
    [33]: KB2544893
    [34]: KB2545698
    [35]: KB2547666
    [36]: KB2552343
    [37]: KB2555917
    [38]: KB2556532
    [39]: KB2559049
    [40]: KB2560656
    [41]: KB2562937
    [42]: KB2563227
    [43]: KB2563894
    [44]: KB2564958
    [45]: KB2567053
    [46]: KB2567680
    [47]: KB2570791
    [48]: KB2570947
    [49]: KB2572077
    [50]: KB2579686
    [51]: KB2586448
    [52]: KB2588516
    [53]: KB2603229
    [54]: KB2616676
    [55]: KB2617657
    [56]: KB2620704
    [57]: KB2641690
    [58]: KB958488
    [59]: KB976902
    [60]: KB976932
    [61]: KB982018
    Network Card(s): 2 NIC(s) Installed.
    [01]: Realtek RTL8168C(P)/8111C(P) Family PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC (NDIS 6.20)
    Connection Name: Local Area Connection
    Status: Hardware not present
    [02]: Realtek RTL8168C(P)/8111C(P) Family PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC (NDIS 6.20)
    Connection Name: Local Area Connection 2
    DHCP Enabled: Yes
    DHCP Server: xx.xx.xx.xx
    IP address(es)
    [01]: xx.xx.xx.xx


  24. Also: Perhaps related.
    Display Info:
    Monitor_Name_1=SyncMaster,Portrait,1080x 1920x,mode:extend desktop,videocard NVIDIA GeForce GT 520
    Monitor_Name_2=ASUS VH242H,Portrait,1080x 1920x,mode:extend desktop,videocard:ATI Radeon HD 3600–mem3835 MB,Dedicated 1024MB
    Monitor_Name_3=ASUS VH242H,Portrait,1080x 1920x,mode:extend desktop,videocard:ATI Radeon HD 3600–mem3835 MB,Dedicated 1024MB

  25. Ran into this issue as well.
    Possible workarounds are:
    Disable desktop composition in the remote desktop client experience settings.
    Inside the remote desktop window, disable any software that uses transparency.

  26. Same Problem W7 64bit running 4 monitors 2 video cards ATI HD8530. No problem with W8 64 bit, but it is only in beta and glitchy. So it has something to do with how OS uses memory. Bad windows. Complain to Microsoft, so they do a better job

  27. I know this is an old thread so would have hoped someone would have found a fix by now. I have searched what feels like the entire internet to fix this problem! Cannot believe the issue! Such a small thing but really frustrates me! Just built a brand new system way over powered for basic computing and yet micros@ft wants to keep telling me my sytem performance is slow?! I have an ASrock 990fx Fatal1ty MB, AMD Phenom IIx6 1100t clocked at 4.0ghz stable, 16gb DDR3 1333, two Radeon HD6770’s running four 24 inch monitors at 1920×1080 32b 60hz, Chronos Deluxe 120gb SSD, 500gb WD caviar black, and absolutely every driver and update to date! System runs very strong, very quick, and very cool! Funny thing is I can run 2 instances of prime95 while editing in photoshop cs4 while watching 4 simultaneous youtube videos full screen in quadrant view with 30 other programs open and running in one form or another all while playing a game and I will have no issue whatsoever, but then I will just be sitting cruising the internet on IE9 with nothing else open and my Aero will go away! and I can usually repeat the process by just doing this simple task with nothing else open, especially if I try to drag my internet to another screen. Did a fresh install using two Nvidia GT240’s I had sitting around and the problem never ever repeats itself no matter what I do. Please note I use all the same software, drivers, updates etc except the Nvidia is the only difference at all. Also note that it won’t happen with Firefox or Chrome so in my case it is an IE9 and ATI issue and really sucks to have to go back to my GT240’s from Radeon HD6770’s just so I can browse the internet! That or have my crappy little laptop on my desk just so I can.

  28. Well I THINK I found a solution to get rid of the messages, it seems to work for me without any problems, please give me some feedbacks on your results.
    I am using three monitors with wo different cards and I get ht emessage like you guys .
    1. Open the Start menu, and type gpedit.msc in the search line and press Enter
    2. In the left pane, go to :User Configuration,/Administrative Templates/Windows Components, and Application Compatibility.
    3. In the right pane, right click on Turn off Program Compatibility Assistant and click on Edit
    4. Select disable to turn it off, and vice versa when you want to turn it back on.

    It seems to work fine for me
    Give me some feedback on this please.

  29. Nevermind. I thought it worked, but I’m still getting the notifications. It is just less often, which I guess is an improvement. Thanks anyhow.

  30. Same problem here for two years. All current drivers and Windows 7 updates installed.
    twin graphics cards ATI Radeon HD5450 and three monitors (:-)) why doesn’t everyone have this set-up!) Never runs out of *real* memory.
    No clues as to what triggers it – seems entirely random, sometimes weeks between events and then twice in one day. Can be when just Visual Studio IDE and Outlook are running, so I doubt if Firefox or IE are necessarily the trouble.

  31. Thanks Jean Marc. This seems to work for me as well! Gosh as old as this problem is you’d have thought that M$ would have addressed it….

  32. im going to necro the $#!^ out of this post, but I think I should say/ask this.

    users of windows home premium (of which I have basic) or BETTER will have access to gpedit.msc, which is your registry editor “wizard”. For those of us with the peons version, we have to do this manually through regedit.exe (I’ve done it with the automatic restarts for winupdate, so I know its possible).

    so my question is, what registry value gets changed/added (in regedit.exe) from the changes that are made in gpedit, so I can manually add the changes into my own registry (capitalization counts, full pathfiles and entry).

    Assuming that my winupdate experience is the same, I wont have this value initially, but adding it will have the same effect as if I had it in the first place.

  33. Ahh, necroing, the true forum experience.

    I can confirm that this has nothing to do with running out of resources as it still happens to my somewhat insane server type computer.

    RAM 128 GB (~20 GB used)
    CPU 2x Xeon 12 core E5 2640 (5%)
    GPU 2x Nvidia 670 (GPU <10%, RAM <15%)
    HDD 4x high speed SSD's in RAID0 (1-3% at most)

  34. Please note You have to enable the ‘Turn off Program Compatibility Assistant’ this allows it to NOT be used. I know it’s basswards.

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