Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dell M6700 Laptop Wacky Window Focus Foreground Background Always-On-Top Issues

The Problem

Running Windows 7 64bit, the window focus on a Dell Laptop goes completely nuts.  Clicking on some windows sends them behind other windows.  Moving the mouse pointer across the title bar of background windows brings them to the front with no click.  Some windows get "stuck" on top of others.

The Tell

In the title bar of each window, just to the left of the minimize, maximize, and close buttons, a small windowpane appears when the mouse pointer is over the title bar of that window.  Also, when the window focus has gone nuts, using alt-tab to cycle through the current set of windows may reveal a transparent ghostly looking window titled: DP_MenuBar_Window

The Villain

A color management utility / driver / manager, or whatever you'd call it supplied by "PremierColor" has a flaky, buggy, shouldn't-have-been-released, was-probably-never-tested, "plugin" named "display splitter".  Dell passes this junkware along to their soon to be previous laptop customers, infuriating them and inspiring many foul things to be said about Dell.

The Hero

Someone posted the question on Dell's own forums, and there's actually an answer (which is a rare thing to find).  However, it isn't easily found because it doesn't match many of the keywords you might use to find it, like focus, hover, hovering, switching windows, title bar, stuck on top, foreground, background, Windows-7 64bit, Dell, laptop, swap, reverse, control, always-on-top, issues, problems bugs, random, front, back, top, bottom, underneath, over, control panel, personalization, "ease of access center", "make the mouse easier to use", "Activate a window by hovering over it with the mouse", and other stuff I'll add if I think of it.

The Happy Ending

You could either read the forum post link below, or you could cut to the chase and disable the buggy "display splitter" plugin, leaving the rest of the PremierColor thing functional.
  1. Find the PremierColor system tray / notification area icon.
  2. Right click it and select "Exit" from the popup menu
  3. Navigate to c:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Portrait Displays\Plugins
  4. Rename, move, delete, or do something to hide the "DP" directory
  5. Open the start menu and restart the PremierColor thing
  6. Verify that the "display splitter" part of it is no longer active by checking to be sure the little windowpane icon on each window's title bar is gone.
  7. Enjoy the sanity that comes from knowing your windows will no longer change focus unless you actually click on them... as it is supposed to be.

Reference:  The forum post on Dell's site


Kenneth Borrowdale said...

Bless you! I have been tortured by this for the past 6 months!

Kenneth Borrowdale said...

Awesome! You deserve an award for this!

Whirly said...

No problem Kenneth! I was so furious when this happened to me, and I just KNEW there had to be other people having the same troubles. Good to know it was worth writing this up and posting.

Brandon Zeone II said...

I love you.

Robin Willis said...

Sanity indeed. Thank you so much for making the world a slightly better place; there is at least one less furious Dell user now.