Microsoft Introduces New Security Tool

Microsoft on Monday introduced the final version of a new security tool for locking down computers that operate in shared environments. The Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP enables administrators to restrict users from changing system settings and running unauthorized software.

The toolkit, which is specifically designed for Internet cafes, school computer labs and libraries, can also keep out viruses and spyware by resetting a hard drive to a "clean" state each day. By removing advanced features, the desktop is also simplified to improve the end-user experience, Microsoft says.

The three primary features of the program include: User Restrictions, Windows Disk Protection and Profile Manager.

A beta version of the toolkit went live in June, and over 60,000 customers have downloaded it since that time and provided extensive feedback, Microsoft told BetaNews. "Customer Involvement in our public newsgroup has been terrific."

Changes in the 1.0 release include new restrictions added to the User Restrictions tool, which has been renamed from "Windows Restrictions." Customers with Active Directory domains can also now apply the toolkit's user restrictions to domain accounts with a Group Policy template.

In addition, many international issues have been resolved and the user interface of the toolkit was improved based on usability feedback, Microsoft says.

Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP 1.0 has been released as a free download, with a hard copy book and CD set to be available for purchase starting October 1.

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