Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP

I administrate both windows and unix systems. I’m responsible for 10 publicly shared computers for one of my clients. As a result, one of my responsibilities includes keeping said computers safe from the random depredations of whoever happens to come along.

We’ve already had one rather disturbing incident that I’m not going to describe here.

As a result, my client suggested that I research our options in terms of really locking down the computers. Though there’s plenty of Linux based options for public terminals, converting these computers to Linux was not an option. Thus, I had to wade through a lot of websites that offer kiosk/public terminal software for Windows.

I needed a program that would:

1. Prevent users from viewing pornography. In fact, since these computers are mostly for data entry web access is unnecessary so cutting off all web access would work too.
2. Prevent users from installing programs on the computer or deleting system files.
3. Preventing spyware or viruses from taking the computer over.

I didn’t really have time to work on it last spring so rolling out something has been put off till this fall. In the meantime, I discovered that I could download a toolkit directly from Microsoft for free.

What’s cool is that it does all I need and more. Additionally, I don’t have to calculate how much licensing fees would cost (always too much for a non-profit). I plan on installing it next week or the week after. We’ll see how it works in practice.

5 thoughts on “Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP”

  1. Some day I expect you to conclude, “it would have been easier to make the switch to Linux after all”.

  2. Blake: It’s too bad I didn’t read your post before I installed it. I ended up discovering the program you point out in the process of installation. Still, it wasn’t that bad a problem.

    On the other hand, I was quite annoyed to discover that Genuine Advantage does not “play nice” with Firefox in terms of allowing programs to check if you’re running a real or cracked version of Windows. Despite the Firefox plugin that automatically installed from MS, I still had to temporarily make IE my default browser in order for the program to install. On the other hand, everything else seems to be going smoothly so far.

    David: I’m hoping not. Making the switch to Linux with the computers I’m talking about would be horrible due to driver related issues. I’d end up spending days just trying to get the display to work. That being said, it would be pretty cool to do it.

  3. Well, it does and it doesn’t. I’ve downloaded the genuine advantage plugin from Microsoft (and it is very cool that they’re writing Firefox extensions at all…), but all that is does is inform me that I do have a genuine copy of Windows.

    While this is more or less what it’s supposed to do, Internet Explorer’s plugin does something additional. It passes the information back to the Shared Computer Toolkit, allowing the toolkit to install.

    For whatever reason, the Firefox extension doesn’t do that. At least not right now.

    Perhaps I should submit that as a suggestion to the blog you mentioned.

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