Woohoo!!! I'm suddenly one very happy person. The killer feature I've been hoping to see in Windows XP Pro is present in Windows Vista Beta 1. No guarantees for the future, but it shows the boys in Redmond have the capability. Here's what it is and why it's important to me.
I have various machines at home, generally all domain joined. Until recently, there were two exceptions. One was my kids games machine where it is much easier for them to click a picture of themselves at a logon page rather than Ctrl-Alt-Del, enter a username and password. The other was the main Media Centre PC. On upgrades to MCE 2005, if the machine was previously domain joined, or the network card is detected correctly during fresh installation of MCE 2005, you can join it to a domain. Otherwise officially, and from a support perspective it is workgroup only. (There are other ways too, but this isn't the place to put that info 🙂 )
As much as the advantages to having machines domain joined (such as group policy etc), on the MCE, it means that you lose the FUS (Fast User Switching) capability, and the ability to use extender technology which relies under the covers on FUS. I debated long and hard about which way to go with the MCE, but the domain joined option won it for me in the end. Not that it pleased all members of the household but that's another story - I may not be the MD, but when you're the CIO at home, you trump the boss!
Now, there I was "playing" on the Windows Vista 1 Beta which is domain joined to the MSFT corporate network. Click Start/Lock (or Log-Off depending on context)/Log Off and there it is. I'm going to have to investigate this further whether this means the final shipping Windows Vista "Media Centre Edition" (not the actual name obviously) will have FUS, Domain and extender functionality all in one box. That will be cool. See the screen below - two users logged on, domain joined and FUS is available 🙂