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Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP Fact Sheet
The Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP is a powerful combination of software tools and documentation for optimizing shared computers that have genuine Windows XP software installed.

September 2005

The Microsoft® Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows® XP is a powerful combination of software tools and documentation for optimizing shared computers that have genuine Windows XP software installed. It will be available to customers who operate shared computers in school computer labs, public libraries, community technology centers, Internet cafes or other shared locations — and it requires no server infrastructure.1

Specifically designed for people with little IT training, yet relevant to IT professionals, the toolkit includes exciting new features that do the following:

Restrict untrusted users from system resources. The User Restrictions tool makes it easy for administrators to create restricted local user profiles. The intuitive interface lets administrators decide what a user can and cannot do on a shared computer. Administrators can set sessions timers, control access to every drive on the computer, set the home page, and enforce a number of recommended policy restrictions that limit access to system utilities such as Control Panel, the command prompt and Registry Editor. By checking a box, administrators also can restrict users from running unauthorized software on a shared computer, even from the Internet or an external device.

Defend shared computers from untrusted users, viruses and spyware. The toolkit features a new Microsoft technology that helps prevent users from making unauthorized changes to the computer’s hard disk. Windows Disk Protection tracks changes that users or programs make to the hard drive (including changes made by viruses, spyware or malware). When the computer restarts, the technology is designed to discard changes and return the hard drive to its original state. However, it is important that some changes can be permanently saved to the disk. Windows Disk Protection lets administrators schedule the automatic application of Microsoft critical updates, anti-virus2 signatures and other updates they want to save. Windows Disk Protection also gives administrators the flexibility to save ad-hoc changes whenever they choose.

Enhance the end-user experience. The toolkit is designed to help administrators create a better and more private experience for shared computer users, who will benefit from a streamlined user interface and won’t be confused or distracted by programs and settings they shouldn’t use. They also will benefit from a new privacy feature that clears session information each time a new user logs in. All information related to the user profile, including Web passwords, Internet History and recently used documents, is cleared by the toolkit when a new user logs in. In addition, the Accessibility tool consolidates several Windows accessibility features into one interface so users can find them more easily and quickly re-create a particular look and feel.

For customers of Windows XP, the key benefits of installing and using the Toolkit include easier configuration of shared computers, enhanced protection against security threats and exceptional reliability. Consequently, it is expected that administrators will spend less time troubleshooting issues with shared computers and more time delivering a better experience to their users.

Detailed Feature Descriptions

User Restrictions:

Restrict local user profiles from accessing system resources or from using specific Windows functionality, such as the following:

Launching the command prompt or using the Registry Editor

Accessing or using Control Panel

Changing Internet Explorer settings

Browsing the hard disk

Right-clicking on the desktop or Start menu

Control access to any drive on the computer (including external media)

Restrict unauthorized software from running

Enforce Microsoft Office System restrictions (for example, disable macros and Visual Basic® for Applications)

Restrict the Start menu so users see only the icons they need to see

Lock3 a shared local user profile so changes to the profile, including the following, are refreshed after each user session:

Changes made to the desktop (including the taskbar, Start menu or desktop wallpaper)

Any files saved within the profile

Any changes to the Internet History, Favorites or Internet password lists

Personalization changes to programs

Windows Disk Protection:

Helps protect the Windows operating system partition from unapproved changes

Clears recent changes to the protected partition with each restart

Lets the administrator save changes to the protected partition at any time

Lets the administrator retain changes for one restart or an indefinite number of restarts before clearing changes or saving them to disk

Schedules Microsoft critical updates and new anti-virus signatures to be automatically saved to the protected partition

Profile Manager:

Specify where each user profile is stored on the computer’s disk (protected C: drive or unprotected D: drive)

Profiles on an unprotected partition can be permanently modified by users.

Profiles on the protected partition get refreshed every time the computer restarts.

Delete user profiles that are no longer needed

Accessibility:4

Users can view and control the top Windows accessibility features in one place.

Administrators can offer accessibility features easily, even with Control Panel restricted.

Handbook:

Includes comprehensive documentation on how to use the toolkit and how to properly set up shared computers

Lists additional steps for defense-in-depth protection of shared computer environments

Covers advanced topics such as using the toolkit in domain environments and using additional command line tools

Command Line Tools:

Provide scriptable versions of each tool and additional utilities that help administrators accomplish the following types of tasks:

Configure a program, such as Internet Explorer, to restart automatically when closed

Configure Windows to log on automatically with a specific account

Remove administrative accounts from the Windows Welcome screen

Disable accounts that should not be available

Configure the computer to sleep (to conserve energy) and then wake to perform critical updates

Automatically set up a demonstration computer to showcase the capabilities of the Toolkit

Note: Toolkit installation and all features are scriptable, enabling full automation of toolkit functionality.

Release Information

Customers can download version 1.0 of the toolkit free from the Microsoft Download Center or acquire a hard copy of the handbook and CD on the Microsoft Product Information Center. 5 To download the toolkit, customers will first need to validate they are running a genuine copy of Windows XP through the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation process. WGA is part of Microsoft’s commitment to protect its customers and partners from counterfeiters through education, engineering and enforcement of policies and laws. WGA differentiates the value of genuine Windows software from counterfeit software, enabling customers to enjoy the capabilities they expect, confidence that their software is authentic, and ongoing system improvements that help them do more with their PC, as well as software and discounts available only to genuine users.

1 The toolkit is designed for workgroup computers and is not intended as a replacement for the advanced management and security features of the Active Directory® directory service and Group Policy. Some of the tools, such as Windows Disk Protection, can be used on domain computers to supplement Active Directory capabilities.

2 Anti-virus protection on shared computers is highly recommended, even with Windows Disk Protection on.

3 Shared profile locking is similar to a mandatory user profile in an Active Directory environment. It refreshes profile data every time a new user logs on, whereas Windows Disk Protection clears the entire hard disk when the computer restarts.

4 Accessibility is the only tool in the toolkit available to end users. All other tools are for the administrator to use.

5 The handbook and CD are available together for $9.95 plus shipping and handling charges, and the CD is available for $4.95 plus shipping and handling charges.

Microsoft, Windows, Visual Basic and Active Directory are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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