If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably know my favorite worst Vista feature: UAC. Now, I found my second worst feature, and I feel the urge to tell the world about it.

It is the logon screen. If the Vista machine belongs to a Windows domain, you can logon locally or to a domain. In Windows XP, you can just choose where you want to logon.

Vista doesn't offer this option anymore. There is a button "switch user". If you click on it, you get a second screen where you have to click on "Other user". Now you can enter a new user name, but you don't have the option to choose the domain or the local computer.

Logon 1Logon 2

If you want to logon locally, you have to enter the computer name manually followed by a backlash. If you don't know the local computer name, then you are lost. Is there are a more complicated way to design a logon screen?

If you log off after you logged on locally, then the next user will have to follow the same procedure to log on to the domain. This time the domain name shows below the logon fields. It says "Logon to <domain>", where "domain" refers to the domain's name.

But after you enter the logon name, this line changes, and it shows the name of the local computer. What is this? Vista is playing "catch me if you can"? So, you have to enter again the domain name followed by back slash and the account to logon.

Logon 3Logon 4Logon 5

I really don't see the logic behind this. I am sure, it will cause countless help desk calls. Why did Microsoft change the logon screen? Just because it had to look different? This new "feature" annoys me everytime I logon to a Vista machine. Let me know, what you think about this. What is your worst new Vista feature?

24 Comments
  1. Raymond 16 years ago

    try “.\username”
    Yeah, it’s that easy.

  2. Michael Pietroforte 16 years ago

    Thanks for the tip, but wouldn’t it be even easier, if I could just select the machine I want to logon?

  3. Raymond 16 years ago

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to come off as condescending. Yeah, it would be easier if you didn’t have to, and I don’t know why it was done that way. I found it annoying too until I figured out the . thing, but once you know it is easy.

  4. Michael Pietroforte 16 years ago

    Yeah, it is easy if you know it. The point is that with a good user interface you don’t have to know anything. You just do it. It is also easy to press ALT if you want to access the menu in the Windows Explorer. But it is not easy to find this out if the user interface doesn’t tell you about it. There are lots of other badly thought-out tools in Vista. The logon screen is just one example. Anyway, the trick with the . is great.

  5. Jim 16 years ago

    Ugh! It does sound ugly and I know that even with the.\ tip many will hate it or even forget it. I’d be curious if anyone has looked through the policy settings real close to see if there is a way to alter this.

  6. Tharg 16 years ago

    Great tip but this way of logging on is bizarre.

    Its typical MS. Imagine if users had to learn new ways to drive a car every few years.

    Make you wonder what the MS UI team have been up to for the last 5 years.

  7. Michael Pietroforte 16 years ago

    Tharg, it’s more like this: If a new driver of a Vista car wants to open the door, he has to push the “Switch driver

  8. nx01 16 years ago

    I just loaded Vista up today on some of our lab machines, and noticed this login ‘feature’. I then read up on group policies, and was thinking I missed something because I didn’t see any settings to change this login behaviour. Now I have to rethink if it’s worth loading on anymore of our computers or not . .

  9. Greg Muir 16 years ago

    This is just another one of those stupid things that never needed changed but was changed anyway. I’m really not liking what I’m reading about Vista.

  10. Gary 16 years ago

    It’s hard to recommend Vista to my clients when the very first thing they will see is an obvious step backwards in program design.

    I cannot fathom the reason for making it harder to logon to a domain, and for forcing a user to know the name of the domain. Users had a hard enough time with the Win XP logon screen.

    At least Vista remembers the domain\username for the next logon so this convoluted process does not have to be repeated every morning.

    Michael is right that this goofy login UI is going to generate tons of help desk calls.

  11. Greg Muir 16 years ago

    At least Vista remembers the domain\username for the next logon so this convoluted process does not have to be repeated every morning.
    ^^^^

    That actually makes it worse. When the user no longer has to type it in, why are they going to remember it? I get so many calls from people who can’t remember what their username is since they’re used to just typing in the password. Doesn’t matter that the username and email address are identical, they still forget.

  12. Gary 16 years ago

    Good point. Now they not only have a user name to forget, they have a domain name to forget. And they also have to remember which comes first and how to put a backslash between them.

    So maybe it would be better if they had to go through all the agony every time from a standpoint of reducing help desk calls.

  13. Mike 16 years ago

    Hi!
    I am a new Vista user, and I was looking for an answer to my problem when I found this site. Eventhough you give me the answer, I cannot make it to see those screens that you show in here. Is this way of login specific of any version of Vista? or am I missing something? I only have the chance to type my password… cannot type the username nor the domain…
    I have 2 accounts, one is the administrator, the other is my account, which is supposed to be logged in the domain. Any help will be aprecciated!

  14. Greg Muir 16 years ago

    Sounds like maybe you have it setup for a single user login? I don’t use Vista myself so I’m guessing from afar here.

  15. Gary 16 years ago

    Only the Business and Ultimate versions of Vista include domain support. The Home Basic and Home Premium versions do not support domains.

    Since most of the machines in the retail channels come with home versions, I wonder if that is what’s tripping you up?

  16. Gary 16 years ago

    You can upgrade your Vista version at:

    https://na.windowsanytimeupgradestore.com/WAU_DIRECT/Home.aspx

    Home Basic to Ultimate: $199
    Home Premium to Ultimate: $159

  17. Mike 16 years ago

    Oh! Thank you very much… Yes, that is my problem, I’m using Home Basic…
    Thanks again…

  18. Hugo 16 years ago

    just enter a \ and you’ll see it asks for a local user
    enter \username, that’s all…

  19. Graz79 16 years ago

    Is it me or is this a security issue. We have one Vista business machine on our domain (cos you try buying a machine without it on!!). When the next user comes to the machine they have my login displayed. Means they only have to guess the password. Now multiply this up to enterprise sized domain’s and you have a major issue not just an inconvenience.

  20. Gary 16 years ago

    You can disable the last logon name from being displayed.

    http://www.lockergnome.com/nexus/windows/2007/02/19/prevent-last-logon-name-from-being-displayed-in-vista/

    The user better get to know their domain name.

    Let me know if this helps.

  21. Greg Muir 16 years ago

    I believe Dell still offers business-class machines without XP preinstalled. Alternatively, you can always buy a Linux-ready machine (i.e. one with no OS installed) and then provide your own copy of XP. You might be able to find a student discount copy for cheaper than retail.

    Microsoft is charging WAY too much money for way too little product. What we really need is for a prebuilt company like Dell to put out a branded Linux product with drivers preconfigured and guarranteed to work. I’m happy with my XP laptop but I’m dreading the thought of my next laptop purchase. I think that Macs are too expensive and it’s a nightmare to try to get all the open source stuff working with such poor driver support.

  22. Josh 14 years ago

    Is it me or is this a security issue. We have one Vista business machine on our domain (cos you try buying a machine without it on!!). When the next user comes to the machine they have my login displayed. Means they only have to guess the password. Now multiply this up to enterprise sized domain’s and you have a major issue not just an inconvenience.
    ^^^^^^^^^^

    XP remembers the last username logged on too…

  23. Dan 13 years ago

    Well, W7 is now out, and this “feature” still has not been fixed.
    To me, this is proof that MS must run MACs or Linux systems on all their end user desktops.
    Effin morons.

  24. Antonio 12 years ago

    I’ve been running into this lately, and it’s very annoying to me also. I haven’t found a solution beside the “./”, and hope one exists.
    I wonder, if it’s annoying to me, how is the experience for an end user? Yech.

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