Windows Steady State: Shared Access computing tool

"Slow and steady wins the race," said the turtle. Locking down a shared access computer ensures you sleep at night. I must admit when I first saw the Windows Steady State tool. I thought it was a bit parochial. Microsoft, after all, is touting this tool as an answer to shared systems used in libraries, schools, Internet cafes and such. But that is why we have the Group Policy Management Console. Then I thought about the little Internet café by my house and the township library. Both have about a half dozen computers, which are used constantly. Yet neither is part of a client/server network infrastructure. One is a collection of separate systems getting DHCP addresses from a wireless router. The other is more a workgroup lacking a server to handle the Policy based management. Yes, local policy settings are an option, but they are not as broad.

I read another interesting use for this tool, the home computer. I have two laptops and a desktop for my writing and labs. However, we share a single PC as a family for gaming, mindless Internet surfing and whatever other entertainment uses we can think of. My 10-year-old goes onto the PC and is constantly downloading junk from Nickelodeon or Disney. Therefore, I thought this is a cool little tool to keep the home system clean. Simply choose what your various users can and cannot do (it’s all GUI based, click the checkbox). In addition, you can lock down the PC with one simple and manageable profile for everyone.

The tool is broken down into Global and User settings. In the global settings, you can set computer restrictions, schedule updates, and setup disk protection. These are universal for anyone who uses the PC. On the User side you can set more granular controls such as locking the profile from any changes, session timers, restriction setting based on levels (none, low, medium, high) or choose individual setting you want blocked. You likewise have the ability to block certain programs from running under specific user profiles. All in all the settings take minutes to setup and the settings can be exported and imported to other systems to ensure a uniform environment.(Another idea: this is also a simple enough tool for consultants to give to that one small client that you still service because they were your first client -- even though you have grown they are still a two PC operation.)

I also think of those friends and family members who can’t seem to figure out why their system is running so slow. Perhaps it is all the downloaded music and movies from their teenagers (JUST KIDDING… DOWNLOADING COPYRIGHTED MATERIALS IS ILLEGAL!!!). Be that as it may, the constant downloading and installing of Internet add-ins and toolbars will affect those systems. Overall, this is a great and easy to use tool provided by Microsoft for Microsoft -- whether you need to lock down systems at a home or small office, need to control a shared resource in your enterprise (great tool for intern computers), or just need to install a simple tool that can be managed by someone non-technical. You can download Steady State here, the Windows Steady State is a tool to help make your world "A Better Windows World!"

Recent Posts A Better Windows World Tools Library

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2: Activities, WebSlices and Security…Oh My!

R- Studio:Nothing is lost forever Part II

Like this and want more? Check out the other tools I've written about in A Better Windows World.

Plus, check out the Microsoft Subnet home page for more bloggers, news, humor, security alerts and more.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.