Category Archives: Direct Access

Offline Domain Join and Direct Access – A real life example

A few days ago I got a new computer at work. I took it home to install it, but to finish the installation and log on with my domain account I needed access to the corporate network.

I had to find a solution to finalize the installation without going back to the office. Luckily we have Direct Access configured at my company, and all I need to connect is a domain joined computer. A perfect opportunity to use the Offline Domain Join feature.

For this to work we need some prerequisites in place:

  • A Windows Server 2012 or newer Direct Access server
  • A domain controller with at least Windows Server 2008 R2
  • At least Windows 8 on the client computer

Note: Offline Domain Join works in Windows 7 as well, but these are the minimum requirements to use it in conjunction with Direct Access

This process is performed in two steps: First we have to provision the computer in Active Directory. We create a computer account, and store metadata about the computer in a file. The metadata file is then used on the computer to finish the process.

The information we have to provide during the provisioning is:

  • The name of the domain that we want to join the new computer to
  • The name of the computer
  • Where to save the metadata file
  • The Direct Access Group Policy, to get all settings to connect using Direct Access
  • We also need to issue a computer certificate for Direct Access, so we have to specify what Certificate Template to use.

Let’s use Djoin.exe to provision the new computer. This command must run on a machine that is already a member of the domain, and you need rights to add workstations to the domain:

Djoin.exe /provision /domain /machine PC5441 /savefile c:\OfflineDomainJoin.txt /policynames "DirectAccess Client Settings" /policypaths "\\\SYSVOL\\Policies\{GUID}\Machine\Registry.pol" /certtemplate Machine

Now, I copy OfflineDomainJoin.txt to the new computer and run Djoin.exe again to insert the metadata into the computer. Please be aware that this file contains sensitive information and should not be sent unencrypted.

Djoin.exe /requestODJ /loadfile C:\OfflineDomainJoin.txt /windowspath %systemroot% /localos 

Finally, a restart is required. After the restart I’m connected with Direct Access and it is possible to log on with my domain credentials.

/ Andreas


Directaccess in Windows 8 and Server 2012 – Hotfix frenzy

Windows Server 2012 DirectAccess includes a number of enhanced features and improvements as below:
⦁ Direct Access and RRAS coexistence
⦁ Simplified Direct Access management/setup for small and medium organization administrators
⦁ Built-in NAT64 and DNS64 support for accessing IPv4-only resources
⦁ Support for Direct Access server behind a NAT device
⦁ Load balancing support
⦁ Support for multiple domains
⦁ Support for OTP (token based authentication)
⦁ Automated support for force tunneling
⦁ Multisite support
⦁ Windows PowerShell support
⦁ User and server health monitoring

I’ve now done a couple of DirectAccess implementations (both small scale and large scale) and I must say that most things works very well and straightforward.

There are however a couple of hotfixes that you may have to apply, if you for example are enabling external load balancing in your implementation.
Below is a summary of the hotfixes that have been useful in my different implementations of DirectAccess

Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 – DirectAccess Related Hotfixes:
KB2782560: DNS64 does not resolve computer names when you use DirectAccess and external load balancing in Windows Server 2012.

KB2788525: You cannot enable external load balancing on a Windows Server 2012-based DirectAccess server.

KB2769240: You cannot connect a DirectAccess client to a corporate network in Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012.

KB2748603: The process may fail when you try to enable Network Load Balancing in DirectAccess in Window Server 2012.

SCM 3.0 Windows 8 Baseline breaks Direct Access IPHTTPS Connectivity

When playing with SCM 3.0 and Windows 8 in my lab environment recently, I got an unpleasant surprise with my Direct Access connectivity in the Environment.

The Windows 8 client wouldn’t connect with IPHTTPS. When doing the usual troubleshooting with the netsh commands (netsh interface httpstunnel show interfaces) etc. I got the output “IPHTTPS interface not installed”.

That output usually shows up when you’re inside the corporate network.

When troubleshooting further I found out that the system event log were full with error 36874/Schannel as below.


The setting causing the problem was “System cryptography: Use FIPS compliant algorithms for encryption, hashing, and signingunder “Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Options” .

The setting was Enabled by SCM and is by default Disabled.


After changing back the setting to Disabled I restored the IPHTTPS connectivity in my environment.

I am planning to follow this up as FIPS compliance is important for many organisations.