When Windows boots up, it will automatically start many of your services prior to you even logging in. This means that by the time you log in, many of the services your machine uses are already started and you don’t have to wait for them to launch.

But your startup applications (like Outlook, Messenger, etc.) don’t start up automatically until you actually log in. This is “by design” in Windows since (among other reasons) until you log in, Windows doesn’t know which user you are going to sign in as and hence which user’s applications and application settings should be used.

This past week, I was in a discussion with some colleagues over this fact. We all agreed that if you’re the only person who uses the machine (the only user) then it would be really nice to have all of your applications start up automatically before you even log in. This way you could boot up your machine in the morning, go grab your coffee, log into your PC and start working right away.

I came up with a solution (ok, a “hack”) which allows this to work. My friend Steve Smith did a great job of blogging the process I outlined, so I’ll just link to his post. As Steve points out this is not without its risks (it creates a couple of security holes) but if you are a good steward of your PC’s physical security (and making sure you lock it when you’re away) then it should be an acceptable solution.

I’ve tested this on Windows 7 but it should work on most (all?) versions of Windows. Well, except for Windows 3.1, of course… which means I’ve just alienated part of my blog readership. Sorry, guys.