Why can’t I use Magnifier in Full Screen or Lens mode?

A customer liaison asked why their customer's Windows 7 machines could run Magnifier only in Docked mode. Full Screen and Lens mode were disabled. The customer liaison was unable to reproduce the problem on a physical machine, but was able to reproduce it in a virtual machine.

Full Screen and Lens mode require that desktop composition be enabled. Windows will enable desktop composition by default if it thinks your video card is capable of handling it. (Finding the minimum hardware requirements for desktop composition is left as an exercise.)

This was visible in the screen shots provided by the customer liaison. In the screen shot where Full Screen and Lens modes were enabled, the Aero theme was being used, whereas in the screen shot where they were disabled, the theme was Windows 7 Basic. The Windows 7 Basic theme is used when desktop composition is disabled.

A quick way to check whether desktop composition is enabled is to hit Alt+Tab and see whether windows get the Aero Peek effect when you select them. Aero Peek is a feature that is provided by the desktop compositor.

Comments (16)
  1. Shawn says:

    It saddens me that a customer liaison would not understand this.

  2. RP says:

    The options could have been labelled 'Aero only', but then the user would have asked anyway.

  3. TRWTF is that in Windows 7 high contrast themes are not implemented in Aero. Why?

  4. Joshua says:

    @Macrosofter: I forced it on (it's not as hard as it sounds). The result is certain system panels are painted in a completely incompatible color set because not all color bases in Aero can be customized. A slightly modified high contrast white should work (the default one is damaged).

  5. Jonathan says:

    I for one wish that desktop composition wasn't coupled with Aero. I like the classic (Win2K-like) look, and wish I could have desktop composition while maintaining that look.

  6. Ian Boyd says:

    I for one wish that Explorer wasn't coupled with the taskbar. I like the classic (Program Manager) look, and i wish i could use Explorer while maintaining that shell.

  7. Joshua says:

    @Ian Boyd: You can. Change shell to something else and spawn explorer as explorer <foldername>.

  8. Gabe says:

    Muzer: That's not entirely unheard of. I wanted my car with a navigation system, which only comes in the "sport" model — but only with an automatic transmission! Why would the "sport" model even have the automatic transmission option, let alone require it to upgrade to the satnav?

  9. alegr1 says:


    A tangential question:

    When was the last time somebody bought a Sport Utility Vehicle with a manual transmission? Anyway, some "sport" cars are also "chickmobiles", therefore an automatic.

  10. Muzer says:

    Lol? Wanting to use two completely different and incompatible pieces of software in harmony is *slightly* different than wanting something that's supposed to be better than what existed before to be a little more customisable in terms of themes…

    It'd  be like if some car company releases a new car that's faster, more efficient and more comfortable than all their previous ones, but it's only available in bright pink. Wouldn't it be nice for the same car to be available in the old colours?

  11. Gabe says:

    alegr1: The term SUV is primarily used in North America, where such vehicles generally don't come with automatic transmissions. That said, Jeeps (CJ and its successor the Wrangler) traditionally have stick shifts, though can be ordered with an auto. I think that SUVs which people actually use for "sport" (e.g. hunting, fishing, or off-roading) are the ones that are likely to have manual transmissions, while the ones you most often see are autos because usually people get SUVs to drive around suburbia.

    Contrast that with the "sport" in my car's name, which refers to the idea of motorsports. For my car (a tiny station wagon with a mere 7" ground clearance), being "sport"-y means it has bigger tires, a tighter suspension, and a spoiler (among the other trappings of a higher trim level).

    The manual transmission is available on regular and "sport" versions (except the ones with satnav), while the automatic is available on both but has paddle shifters on the "sport" version.

  12. spike says:

    Even if you have the hardware, incompatible software will cause windows to revert to the basic theme as well!

  13. ender says:

    @Jonathan: Windows 8 finally fixes this – but you still need to enable high-contrast to be able to customize colours (even if the colours you choose aren't high contrast). This unfortunately makes certain browsers (IE and Firefox) render webpages in high-contrast mode, which makes certain elements invisible (luckily Opera and Chromium don't try to be smart).

  14. Jonathan says:

    @ender: Thanks, I'll check that out when I move to Windows 8 (soon). I don't want to customize colors – I use the "Windows Classic" theme unmodified (save for a black background).

  15. RP says:

    @Gabe: Just buy the manual sport version, and an aftermarket sat-nav (they are usually better and cheaper than manufacturer-fitted options).

  16. zeus says:

    @Jonathan I hate to be the bearer of bad news but Windows 8 removed support for the "Windows Classic" aka the look of windows 2000 and under.

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