A curious Windows Vista bug

What’s the matter with Katy?

As CFO (Chief Feline Officer) of edbott.com, Katy the cat has been an active participant in just about every project I’ve done for the last decade. If you flip through books with my name on the cover, you’ll invariably find her name and picture inside. She even has her own Outlook 2007 business card.

When I set up a new Windows machine, I usually add a Standard user account for Katy and use it when I want to test applications or features under a user account.

But a strange thing happened this morning when I tried to create Katy’s account on a new machine running Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit edition. I opened the User Accounts Control Panel, clicked Create New Account, and entered Katy’s name, just as I’ve done on at least 100 other installations in the past year and a half.

But when I pressed Enter, I was greeted with this message:

Well, that’s strange. There are no special characters in the name at all. I can create new accounts using other names, including four-letter names that begin with a capital letter and end with y. I can create this account with the name Kat, Kate, or Katie. But entering Katy as the user name fails, with this baffling message.

This is a new, fresh installation of Windows Vista. I’ve tried changing the keyboard, with the same results. I’ve tried logging off and restarting the computer. I tried creating a new account in the Administrators group, logging on with that account, and then creating Katy’s account. No joy.

I’m stumped. Any suggestions on what could be going on here? I’m especially interested in any suggestions from folks working on the Windows Vista team at Microsoft.

… Ah, mystery solved. And this is indeed a bug.

Yesterday, while working on one of the very last pieces of Windows Vista Inside Out, I was testing Windows Easy Transfer (the successor to the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard in Windows XP). At one point I transferred a group of settings from a virtual machine with three user accounts to this machine, which has only one. The settings were transferred, apparently successfully. But some items in the Registry were, shall we say, incongruous. An account called Katy had entries in the registry for its SID and profile location. The trouble is, that account didn’t actually exist, and when I went to create it Windows threw up the most appropriate error message it could find, which wasn’t actually appropriate.

A little something for Windows Vista Service Pack 1, I hope, and for the next edition of Windows Vista Inside Out.

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5 thoughts on “A curious Windows Vista bug

  1. I still need to work on finding the repro steps. This was a 32-to-64 transfer, which introduces an interesting set of issues on its own. It’s also entirely possible that I was using a saved group of settings from a beta version. And I’ve used the Windows Easy Transfer wizard many times without problems, so I hope this was just one of those things.

  2. I assume that the machine name was given the same spelling, thus Katy would not be an allowed user name. It’s the same in XP, but the stringsin the next window gives multiple explanations on the failure.

  3. have you found a fix for this? my user accounts are completely corrupt now, I can see the user names I tried to bring over from my XP machine in Parental Controls, but I can’t see them in user accounts, if I enter the names I get the message you stated above. So, any fix?

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