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I need a process to start at a Windows XP Professional login screen once the user presses Control-Alt-Delete at the login screen.

Is there a registry key that I can edit to cause this to occur? Is it even possible?

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call me crazy but this request seems a little bit fishy... – TM. Dec 11 '09 at 2:32
It really is not. I need a VPN to start before logging in on an image that I'm building for a few employees to put on some laptops. I know it may sound fishy, but it's really not. :P – Devon Dec 11 '09 at 3:30
up vote 1 down vote accepted

No, the user's personal programs and configuration is not even loaded yet at the startup screen, so there is no way for AutoHotkey or a similar program to listen for keyboard events yet.

You can have logon scripts run before users are logged in, but these cannot be triggered by hotkeys at the logon screen. You can configure them under:

Start -> Run -> gpedit.msc -> Computer Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Scripts

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No. I am referring to the Windows Security check that occurs at a Windows XP Professional login screen. AKA: "Press Cntrl-Alt-Del to begin." The Cisco Systems VPN Client does this exact same functionality if the option is set. Once the user hits control-alt-delete, the VPN client will show at the bottom left. Is this functionality available via a third-party wrapper for other programs? – Devon Dec 11 '09 at 2:32
Not that I know of. You'd need to program some type of interactive service to run at startup. – John T Dec 11 '09 at 2:36
Thank you, John T. Your answer was concise and exactly what I needed. – Devon Dec 11 '09 at 3:34
You're most welcome :) – John T Dec 11 '09 at 3:38

Actually, I think this is possible, as I've done so before to get a poorly written wireless driver to start up when the system starts up (rather than after logon) so I could log on over the network wirelessly.

What you need to do is run the VPN client as a service. Services start when the system starts (if you set them to), and run under the user you set them to (which can be the local system account, the network service account, or an account you create). A lot of applications are not written as services, but Microsoft has instructions on how to create a user-defined service. The KB only applies to WinNT and Win2K, but presumably works on XP as well. I believe in the past I used an application which acts as a proxy service, so if the link there doesn't work, you may want to look into that. I cannot remember the name, otherwise I would give you a link to that as well.

I'm fairly certain this will work for your needs, it just might take a little bit of configuration and trial-and-error. Good luck!

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