Windows SteadyState was a great technology designed for administrators that were responsible for computers used by many people (think labs, kiosks, internet cafes, libraries, community centers, etc). The kind of place where people like to screw around with settings, download viruses, delete files, add stuff that shouldn’t be there…
SteadyState addressed these issues by allowing administrators to set up restrictions as to logon times, allowed programs, what icons showed up on the desktop, would log the computer off after a certain amount of time, and would even discard all changes made my users after logout, resetting the computer to a pristine state for the next user.
As foreshadowed by my past-tense “was” in the first sentence, the bad news is that SteadyState only works with Windows XP and Vista, and there is no version planned for Windows 7. Additionally, the download will only be available through December 31st, 2010; so if you do plan on using SteadyState, download it now here: Windows SteadyState 2.5
The good news is Windows 7 will allow you to natively do almost everything that SteadyState added, and the Windows Team has written up a step-by-step guide on setting up Windows 7 to work well in a lab/café/library/school environment. From the description:
This document is intended primarily for IT pros who configure shared-computer access in business environments, but partners who support shared-computer access in schools, libraries, and Internet cafes will also find the information useful. The document set includes:
- Creating a Steady State by Using Microsoft Technologies, which describes the native Windows 7 features and free tools from Microsoft that you can use to create a steady state on computers running Windows 7.
- Group Policy Settings for Creating a Steady State, which is a reference that describes Group Policy settings that you can use to configure computer and user settings and prevent users from changing those settings.
- The SteadyState Reference worksheet (.xlsx file), which you can use to look up and filter settings that this document and the reference describe. For example, you can quickly find information about settings that are related to Start Menu restrictions.
Some features, such as AppLocker (available in Windows 7 Ultimate or Enterprise), will allow MUCH more control over what applications are allowed to run, based off of File version, name, product name, publisher, etc.