Joining a Mac or PC to a Domain

When your computer guy sets up your Mac or PC on your office or campus network, he typically does two things: renames the computer to something sensible, and joins it to the domain.

On Macs, this is a simple process.  Just open Directory Utility, type the domain & the computer ID, and hit Bind.  Bam!  You don’t even have to restart!

On Windows, you’d expect it to be easy, right?  After all, you’re connecting Microsoft Windows PC to a Microsoft Windows server.  But no:

First you have to figure out whether you’re running Windows 7 Professional or above.  If you’re running Windows 7 Home or one of the many lower class versions of Windows, you’ll need to spend an hour upgrading to the latest service pack, then run Windows Anytime Upgrade while getting out your credit or debit card.  That is, if you’re lucky.  If you’re unlucky, the upgrade process will spew errors at you like 0x800f081f and you have to spend a day on the phone with Microsoft’s senior support techs to resolve it.

But let’s say you finally get Windows 7 Pro installed, you’ve rebooted, and you’re ready to rename & join it to the domain.  It’s a multi-step process full of wizards.  If you’re willing to type two long commands into the command prompt, it’s almost as fast as the Mac, but you still have to reboot – twice.

One can only hope Microsoft will reduce the complexity of its software so that you don’t need to reboot or even log out to do this.  Look at the lengths people go to to try to get rid of the reboots.  When it’s quicker to connect a Mac to a Windows domain than it is to connect a PC, there’s something wrong.

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