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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Windows 8 - Mini-Review, and My Ability to Switch Users went Missing!

I'll get to the actual fix towards the bottom, but let me diverge into my mini-review of Windows 8 for a couple of paragraphs first.

This weekend I took the plunge and installed Windows 8 on my home desktop. I took full advantage of that promo that Microsoft had back in January and picked up Windows 8 for $30. I still think Windows 8 is a "failure" for the business segment due to so many business users being, well, fairly clueless when it comes to technology. I also have come to believe that humanity in general despises change and lacks a yearning to learn new things, especially when the old way "works just fine". Okay, enough sociology.

I've been using Windows 8 for a few days now, and let me tell you: It has some great features! While the switch to the Metro interface (Start Screen) is jarring, I like that I have big buttons for my most used apps. One of the fixes in 8.1 is that you can make the wallpaper on your Start Screen the same as your desktop wallpaper, so that should help. The live tiles are less useful on a desktop, but I can see their allure. Some of the built in apps are pretty barebones, but there's a store and I can get more apps. The first thing I found was TuneIn, which lets me listen to terrestrial radio stations from all over the planet - awesome! Half the time when I hit the start button on my keyboard I am typing the thing that I want to open anyway, so my use of the start screen is fairly limited. One thing I overlooked about the big buttons is the ability to "remind" myself that I need to do something, like check my torrents, for instance. When I press start now there's my big green uTorrent button staring at me.

The second thing that I really like is the parental control. I have a 12 year old, and now I can look at where he's going on the web independent on whether he figures out how to clear his history. I hear you now: "But why don't you just set up a Squid proxy or something - you're a geek!" This is an option I have thought of many times, but I don't want to pay the electric bill and deal with the management (at home, no less) of yet another system. I also have him locked down with an application whitelist, so that he can only run things I say that he can ahead of time. The cherry on top is that I can specify when he can log on, so no more worrying about him sneaking down in the middle of the night. I'm pretty sure I could have done this via group policy before, but I like that it's now an easy to find option.

So, I got this thing all configured and then I noticed that I didn't have the ability to "switch user" anymore. What was odd is that it was working just fine. I have no idea what caused it to go away since I was doing so many thing (it's a new install after all). After hunting around I finally found a group policy option that fixed the problem. 

1. Hold down your Windows key and press 'R' to open the Run Command box.
2. Type 'gpedit.msc' and press enter. This open Group Policy Management.
3. Navigate to Local Computer Policy/Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/System/Logon
4. Within the Logon folder, you will see "Hide Entry Points for Fast User Switching". Right-click on it and select Edit.
5. Change the setting to "Enabled" and then press OK.
6. Close the Local Group Policy Editor
7. Hold down your Windows key and press 'R' to open the Run Command box.
8. Type 'gpupdate /force' and press enter, then wait for the black box to go away. Or you can reboot.

That's it.

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