How to run the Windows XP Desktop as a different user without logging out

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As most experienced Windows XP users are aware, it is possible to run an application with the credentials of one user, while currently logged in as another user.

A less well known Windows XP fact, however, is that it is also possible to run the entire desktop environment as a different user without logging out and back in again. For example, to run the entire desktop as Administrator, follow these steps:

1. Invoke the Task Manager by pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL.

2. On the Processes page of the Task Manager select explorer.exe. With explorer.exe selected press the End Process button.

3. Click Yes in the resulting dialog warning asking if you are sure you wish to terminate the process.

The next step is to restart the explorer process as the system Administrator:

4. In the Task Manager menu bar select File -> New Task (Run...) to open the Create New Task dialog box.

5. The field labelled open type the following command:

runas /user:%ComputerName%\administrator explorer.exe

6. Click OK and then enter the Administrator password when prompted.

At this point the desktop will re-appear as before, with the exception that you are now the Administrator, and every task you perform from now on will be with Administrator privileges.