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So we have an interesting setup and I'm looking for a little bit of help. We have some accounts that multiple people use at any given time, and due to various reason, they cannot logout for extended periods of time, even 2 minutes is too long. They run multiple programs at the same time and cannot afford more than a quick lock and unlock of their screens. On Linux we have a setup that allows a group account to login followed by a second login for a regular account. When there is a shift change they lock screen and unlock with the new person's own account, allowing them to continue work with the group account and programs. We are looking for something similar for windows. Anyone have any clues?

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You might look at AlwaysUp. It will run regular applications in a separate user session just like a service. Those applications would be running all the time.

The problem will be in interacting with the programs if there is a GUI component the user needs to click on. AlwaysUp will switch the programs between sessions but that will restart the program which I believe you are trying to avoid.

Remote desktop would be another option where the user would remote desktop to a shared session however the licensing and server hardware can be costly.

More information on the nature of the programs and why they cannot be restarted when a 2nd user logs in would allow for more suggestions. Also explain why a shared login would be a problem.

  • The programs that are running are used for monitoring critical hardware. I know it might sound slightly trivial but this is a requirement. The issue with a shared login is accountability. We also have a requirement that the information system account for all user activity. When it comes down to it, it needed 99.999 uptime even though shift changes, and we need to know everything the users are doing. Yes, this is pretty complicated lol. I was thinking that a Remote Desktop solution would probably best the best COTS solution, but I'm willing to look around, even at PowerShell scripts. – Kevin C Mar 30 '17 at 15:13
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While looking at AlwaysUp and similar products, I came across Transparent Screen Lock which might be a workable solution. The shared account can login then locked automatically by this program, the user can then unlock with their own AD credentials thus providing a crumb trail if needed.

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I believe you are on the right track.
Keep using the shared login for housing the application but control the audit trail using 3rd party software. With Remote Desktop you will run into similar issues where a shared login will be required to access the application.

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