If your scratching your head as to why you have to manually start NTP(Network Time Protocol) every time you boot into Windows XP, Vista, and 7, you’re not alone. At first I thought this was a bug in Windows 7, but I’m guessing the developers were just being lazy and reused old ‘W32Time’ libs from XP because my friend has the problem on his XP box as well. To further confuse the situation, Microsoft also call’s their implementation of NTP, ‘Windows Time’ and ‘Internet Time’. Whats wrong with NTP?
I set my NTP server and Windows reports that, “This computer is set to automatically synchronize on a scheduled basis”. But if you reboot it won’t resync until you manually do so again, defeating the whole concept of Internet Time all together. I dug deep into my Windows tool bag and tried to put myself in the shoes of a Windows developer. I would probably reason that, “we need to save something for Windows 8 so lets separate the service from Desktop applet”.
To solve this UI flaw ‘right click’ on your ‘Computer’ icon. Select ‘manage’. Under ‘Services and Applications’ select ‘Services’. Scroll to the bottom of the list to ‘Windows Time’. ‘right click’ and select ‘properties’.
Once in the ‘properties’ dialog box set ‘startup type’ to ‘Automatic’. Now NTP should check the time at boot.
If you reboot and the service still won’t start you may have a permissions issue. After I rebooted my system the clock was still wrong. When I atempted to start it manually(from the desktop) I got an error saying the service could not start. To correct the permissions open manager console, right-click and select ‘properties’ from Windows Time service. Navigate to the ‘Log On’ tab.
Select the ‘This account’ radio button, then click on ‘Browse…’
Next click the ‘Advanced’ button on the ‘Select User’ Dialogue box.
Select ‘LOCAL SERVICE’ then click ‘OK’ . You will return to the screen below. THIS IS IMPORTANT: BY DEFAULT IT WILL APPEAR AS THOUGH A PASSWORD IS ALREADY ASSIGNED TO THE LOCAL USER. ERASE THE PASSWORD BEFORE YOU HIT APPLY! After you hit apply it will appear as though an encrypted password was set. Bizarre.
I cannot believe how much googling and ‘trial & error’ I had to go through to get NTP working on boot with Windows 7. What a huge hassle for such a common network resource. Another example of poor UI design and a janky permissions system from Redmond. But why compete for your business? Why compete when Microsoft has a ‘Desktop PC’ monopoly, delves out large political donations and harbors a deep patent chest? At least they don’t have 88% market share in mobile devices yet… Excited about the new Windows 7 phone? Neither is anyone else.