Backwards Windows

There’s an annoying issue with Windows that has been bothering me since Windows XP, through Windows Vista, to Windows 7, and people tell me it’s still happening in Windows 8. That’s twelve years, folks! It’s this:

Whenever I insert a CD, or a USB memory stick, or do anything else that is supposed to open a new window on the screen, about nine out of ten times said window tends to open in the background, behind all other windows already on the screen.

This is frustratingly counterproductive, especially if like me you’re working in computer tech support, over the phone, and parts of the job of guiding the client towards a solution depends on stuff popping up on the client’s screen when it’s supposed to. Clients are usually computer novices: They don’t notice a blinking icon at the bottom of the screen, signifying that a new window just opened in the background. Instead they simply sit staring at the great big nothing happening there. That is a problem.

Plus it annoys me when it happens on my own computer. I’m using Windows 7, by the way, and throughout the forums I’ve checked, actual Microsoft people who voice their opinions are surprised that anyone might in fact have this problem, that it should not exist (I agree with that: it should not) and tend to blame it on recently installed software, driver updates and so on … the usual suspects. Twelve years, people! Plus, with all the forum posts about this very issue, I know for a fact that I’m not alone. Far from it. It’s real!

So I came across this suggested solution today (not from Microsoft) and tried it out:

  • Open the Registry Editor (regedit.exe).
  • Work your way through to “Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop”.
  • If the value of ForegroundLockTimeout is greater than that of ForegroundFlashCount, a new window may never open at the front.
  • Change the value of ForegroundLockTimeout to 0 (zero).
  • Close the Registry Editor and restart your computer.

At least in the case of my computer, new windows now open in front, like they’re supposed to.

Now, before you try the above, be painfully aware that if you mess up in the Registry Editor, you may mess up Windows, possibly to the point of not working. I’ve deliberately not been more detailed in my description for that precise reason. If you don’t know how to do this, you probably shouldn’t. And if you do anyway, the responsibility for any problems following therefrom rests entirely on your own shoulders.

One thought on “Backwards Windows

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: