I had to do some changes to our local it infrastructure by migrating anything into an active directory structure to improve things here. The good thing about such changes is, that the administrative stuff gets easier if you’re used to it. Besides that, a migration doesn’t require a whole shutdown – so the clients can be migrated as needed.
The migration itself went smoothly and left a bad taste in my mouth as it went too well for my taste. And here comes the problem: A PC used by many users is missing the “Fast User Switch” functionality as known from the common home pc which enables you to switch to another user without logging off your account.
My first idea was asking google about the issue, but that was a rather unpleasant experience. All of the sites showed the same result: Computers that have joined a domain do not have Fast User Switching. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but that’s it – A Microsoft developer stated, that they didn’t have enough time to implement this feature in XP. And if you’d ask me, a patch for adding this functionality would have been a fine thing.
Nevertheless we still got the problem with users who do not log off correctly, just blocking the workstation for hours without using it. If I’d charge a coffee for everytime they do, I’d rather die of an overdose of caffeine than solving the problem. So the only solution that works is brute force via policies.
The Windows 2003 Resource Kit contains a nice tool which finally did the trick: A screen saver that logs off the current user. True, this is not a real solution, but it’s better than nothing.