Windows Vista Fast User Switching on domain joined machines

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 🙂

Comments (13)

  1. Anonymous says:

    OK, so it’s early days yet and anything can change, so this is absolutely not the final word, but…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am of course talking about Fast User Switching for computers that are joined to a domain. John Howard…

  3. Anonymous says:

    John Howard, IT Pro Evangelist for Microsoft UK, discovered that in Windows Vista, you can use Fast User…

  4. Larry Seltzer says:

    Interesting, you’d think this might have certain requirements on the domain controller. Is your domain a 2000 or 2003 domain?

  5. Not sure about that one. However, the domain is 2003.

  6. Nick! says:

    From what I understand, this FUS+Domain ability was on the list for Windows XP but didn’t make the cut so XP could get out on time. Required some architectural changes to Winlogon I guess.

    It doesn’t require any server support, domains don’t really care about things like this. Note you can have multiple accounts logged in at the same time with RunAs on a domain on XP, or that a Terminal Server running as a domain client allows many users to be logged on at the same time too.

    So there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t make Vista, especially if it’s working now… of course it wouldn’t be the first time they cut a useful feature (2 interactive logons at the same time in XP SP2 betas, anyone?)

  7. Sn4k3 says:

    Just to let you know this is also enabled on longhorn server when it’s not a domain controller and also when longhorn server is a domain controller

  8. ToddS says:

    On my test box, this is the fastest way to a blue screen in Vista.

  9. msvista says:

    Nice one John

  10. efontana says:

    I concur, as soon as I tried this, my vista install blue screened.

  11. JoshiMD says:

    I think the FUS in XP worked much better (although not on domain joined machines) than Vista. In vista it takes 3 more clicks everytime you want to switch users compared to none with XP. In a business environment this could become cumbersome after a while.

  12. CBryant says:

    I really hope this makes it out of beta, this is exactly what we need.

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