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When Windows starts, by default userinit.exe runs. What exactly does this program do?

I know what it does in general - e.g., initiates the logon script - but I am looking for the full details of all the steps it takes.

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According to the documentation for the Userinit registry key on TechNet, userinit.exe does the following:

  • Runs the logon script
  • Reestablishes network connections
  • Starts the configured Windows shell (the default is Explorer.exe)
  • Thanks, sorry - felt a little weird doing that since it was my own "share your knowledge as Q&A" but I guess that's what I'm supposed to do, right? – Shannon Wagner Jul 29 '12 at 10:33
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    Yep, it's perfectly acceptable [pun intended] to self-answer on SE sites. In fact, there's even a badge to encourage the practice. – jscott Jul 29 '12 at 10:56
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I realize this was answered, but here is the details of what userinit.exe does (Explorer.exe is technically loaded by winlogon.exe)

Userinit applies Group Policy settings and any applications not trumped by said group policy that are stored in the Registry locations for startup programs, this is a very long list that is ever-evolving and is accessible via a google search or off from Microsofts website.

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