Ultimate Control Panel (AKA God Mode) Part 2

By William Stanek
January 6, 2010

William here. Blathering on about Ultimate Control Panel (AKA God mode). If you read my last post about the UCP, you may be wondering what this feature is and how it works. So in this post, I'll try to answer some of your questions and delve more into the feature.

First, to answer the big question everyone seems to have: What is UCP? UCP is an alternate view for the Control Panel. It is defined in the operating system as a control and registered with a specific Globally Unique Identifier (GUID). That GUID is: {ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}.

UCP.PNG

Technically, the GUID is the class identifier (CLSID) of the control that is registered in the Windows Registry. How it works is much simpler than you might ever imagine, but before I give away the secret sauce let's look at how Control Panel itself works.

Control Panel has three general views:

  • Small Icons
  • Large Icons
  • Category

When you are working with Category view in Control Panel, you can browse the control applets by category, such as System And Security or Network And Internet. Within each category are related applets (or utilities), such as Action Center or System. Generally, each applet has a set of related tasks that are surfaced. For example, with Action Center, you have four top-level tasks, as shown in the Figure below.

ControlPanel.PNG

As you continue to work with Action Center, you'll surface other tasks. For example, if you start Control Panel, click System And Security, click Action Center, and then click Change Action Center Settings, you'll see the Change Action Center Settings page. As shown in the Figure below, and under Related Settings, there are links to several tasks you can perform.

ControlPanel2.PNG

The first two tasks are subtasks of Action Center. The third task is a subtask for Windows Update. This is an important point: the first two tasks run via Action Center while the third task runs via Windows Update in the Control Panel. Another important point is that throughout Control Panel, there may be other links to these tasks and these links could have the same or different text labels.

Knowing this, you can more easily understand how the Ultimate Control Panel works. Quite simply, this alternate view lists all the unique subtasks that can be directly surfaced and organizes them by applet. Applets are listed alphabetically as are the subtasks themselves, allowing you to perform subtasks with:

  • Action Center
  • Administrative Tools
  • AutoPlay
  • Backup and Restore
  • BitLocker Drive Encryption
  • Color Management
  • Credential Manager
  • Date and Time
  • Default Programs
  • Desktop Gadgets
  • Device Manager
  • Devices and Printers
  • Display
  • Ease of Access Center
  • Folder Options
  • Fonts
  • Getting Started
  • HomeGroup
  • Indexing Options
  • Internet Options
  • Keyboard
  • Location and Other Sensors
  • Mouse
  • Network and Sharing Center
  • Notification Area Icons
  • Parental Controls
  • Performance Information and Tools
  • Personalization
  • Phone and Modem
  • Power Options
  • Programs and Features
  • Recovery
  • Region and Language
  • RemoteApp and Desktop Connections
  • Sound
  • Speech Recognition
  • Sync Center
  • System
  • Taskbar and Start Menu
  • Troubleshooting
  • User Accounts
  • Windows CardSpace
  • Windows Defender
  • Windows Firewall
  • Windows Update

If you examine the control definition for the UCP in the Windows Registry, you'll see that it quite literally surfaces all tasks for the Control Panel (see Figure below).

ControlPanel3.PNG

However, that doesn't mean that you can use UCP to perform every action or the same set of actions that you can perform in Control Panel. Only the subtasks that can be directly surfaced are available; many options and view pages are not available. For example, the Change Action Center Settings page is not directly accessible by clicking an Action Center subtask in the UCP. However, you could in some instances use one of the available tasks to access other pages and tasks. For example, use a task to access the main Action Center page and then from there, you could click the Change Action Center Settings link.

More on the alternate Control Panel soon.

Thanks for reading, time for me to get back to work! Hope you'll take a look at my new book Windows 7: The Definitive Guide. Also just released is my book Exchange Server 2010 Administrator's Pocket Consultant.

William R. Stanek
williamstanek at aol dot com
http://www.twitter.com/WilliamStanek


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