By David Chernicoff, Contributing Editor, david@connectedhomemag.com


As Windows XP makes serious inroads into the home and small office/home
office (SOHO) market, frustrated power users are asking me a lot of
questions. The most common question is "What happened to the
Administrator account?"

Two situations typically give rise to this question. The first is when
someone running XP tries to install a legacy Windows 2000 or Windows NT
application that will install or run only under the Administrator
account. The second situation occurs when someone configures a home
computer to allow limited access by children or other family members
and wants to maintain full access for only the Administrator account.

If you're using XP Home Edition and want to maintain an Administrator
account, you might have a big problem. In that OS, the Administrator
account is available only when the computer runs in Safe Mode; you
can't create an Administrator account that's available in any typical
mode of system operation. This limited availability hinders the
Administrator account's effectiveness in managing the computer.

If you're running XP Professional Edition, you can easily gain access
to the Administrator account if you give up XP's Fast User Switching
capability and use the classic Win2K-style logon screen, which isn't
available while Fast User Switching is activated. To access the classic
logon screen, go to the User Accounts application in the Control Panel.
From the "Pick a task" list, click "Change the way users log on or
off." Clear the "Use the Welcome screen" check box (this action
automatically disables Fast User Switching as well) and click the Apply
Options button. Then, log on to the system using the classic logon
screen, and you'll be able to enter any account name you want to. When
you open the User Accounts applet in the Control Panel, you'll see that
the Administrator account is now visible.

If you've been using XP Pro in a domain, Fast User Switching is
probably new to you; when an XP machine joins a domain, it loses the
ability to use Fast User Switching because the domain logon requires
the classic logon interface.

In most cases, I don't think you lose much functionality by disabling
Fast User Switching. I've yet to hear from anyone who wanted to be able
to keep their applications running in the background while someone else
used their computer, which is what Fast User Switching lets you do. I'm
sure situations exist in which Fast User Switching has value, but I've
been using XP daily for almost a year, and I've never felt the need to
use Fast User Switching.

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Copyright 2008 Art Beckman. All rights reserved.

Last Modified: March 9, 2008