Roaming User Profiles — Windows XP vs. Vista
Michael A. Covington
Institute for Artificial Intelligence
The University of Georgia
Last revised 2009 February 2
The AI laboratory now contains a mix of Windows XP and Windows Vista computers on the same domain.
User profiles have a substantially different structure in Windows Vista and Windows 7 than in earlier versions of the operating system (Windows 2000, XP, 2003, and 2008). For example, there is now a "downloads" folder for each user.
We have arranged it so that any roaming user account is valid on both (groups of) versions of Windows. Specifically:
- Under both operating systems, you have the same U: drive and your My Documents folder resides on it.
- Under Vista, some other folders (such as Downloads) are also redirected to U:.
- Your profile and desktop, however, are separate. That is, you have one profile and desktop for all Windows XP computers, and another for all Vista computers, and they do not interact.
- Settings for particular pieces of software are also separate for the two operating systems. Thus, you will have to make some settings again when you roam to the other operating system.
- A newly created account can log in to either operating system; you do not have to use one (for initialization) before you use the other.
- By default, the desktop wallpaper is blue for XP and gold for Vista. You can set your own wallpaper. If you do, be sure to use a .bmp file, not a .jpg file, since (for obscure reasons) .jpg wallpaper does not roam.
- In Vista, the Windows Sidebar ("Gadgets") is turned off by default because it does not roam properly. If you always use the same Vista machine, you can enable it and try your luck.
- From Vista to Windows 7 is a small step. As far as we know, your Vista profile is fully applicable to Windows 7 with no further changes.
Please report problems to email@example.com.