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– Soli Deo Gloria


A Tale of Two Autologins

I’ve used autolog.exe from Novell for many years to setup kiosk type computers.  This program works great on 32-bit machines, but not so great on Windows 64-bit.  You can basically input your username, password and domain and click “Enable Autologin” and the magic is done.  So why doesn’t this work on Windows x64?  I ran WhatChanged picking the registry bits only and it came up with these registry settings:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\MicrosoftWindows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\DefaultDomainName=mypc HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\DefaultUserName=administrator HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WinlogonDontDisplayLastUserName=0 HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows NTCurrentVersionWinlogonAutoAdminLogon=1 HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\DefaultPassword=SecretPassword HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\MicrosoftWindows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\ForceAutoLogon=1 HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\AutoLogonCount=99999999999999999999999999999999999999999 HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WinlogonGinaDLL=MSGINA.DLL HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\MicrosoftWindows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\Never Login=1

If you re-run the test on Windows 32-bit, you get the same results except the Wow6432Node part.   If I move these settings to the “64-bit” registry, the autologin works fine until I reboot and then it is broken.  There’s some interesting things to note here: if you do a Google search,  Never Login=1 doesn’t show up anywhere so I’m not sure what that does.  What the heck is Wow6432Node and why is Windows putting settings in there?  Well, there a “two” branches of the registry and to prevent different architectures of the same program from over writing the settings of each other, Microsoft separated the two.   This is a partial listing of the keys that are re-directed and those that are shared:

Incidentally, Autologon from Sysinternals suffers the same problem as well.  Although not as handy, we can use a REG file that will do the autologin and it will not breaking using the left-shift method:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]

And to disable it we can do:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]

Oh and one more note…it appears that Windows is sensitive to upper and lower case.  So if you have COMPUTERNAME and you type in computername into the REG file it won’t work.  The case has to match EXACTLY.

– Soli Deo Gloria