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Windows XP: Protect shared access Computers with Windows SteadyState – Part 2

How to configure Windows SteadyState – a completely free toolkit from Microsoft that helps administrators take control of shared access computers running Windows XP. Part 1 of this series was a short introduction to Windows SteadyState (WSS). In this part we will see how easy it is to get in the game.

The next, and final article in this series, will introduce you to version 2.5 of this wonderful toolkit – the first version to support Windows Vista.

Before installing WSS

Before you install Windows SteadyState you should uninstall previous versions of the Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit and earlier versions of Windows SteadyState (only relevant when installing version 2.5 which is currently in Beta).

In my world you want to start from scratch with a totally clean Windows XP installation, latest Service Pack level, latest drivers and all necessary updates (from the Windows Update website). You could use an existing Windows XP installation, remove unnecessary software applications, user profiles, temporary files etc – but instead of cleaning up an old system I would recommend starting all over (then you will not miss any existing security holes, etc). As a start, a virtual Windows XP machine should do just fine for “demo” or test purposes.

Even though Windows SteadyState offers great protection from changes, you should still install supported anti-malware software and update the definitions. Also remember to set some strong passwords for the local administrator account(s).

I would recommend installing any applications, features, services, etc the users should have available, before installing WSS – or at least before “locking down” with Windows Disk Protection (WDP).

As the very last thing before installing WSS (and enabling WDP), be sure to defragment your system drives to optimize performance. Just remember, it is only when WDP is finally enabled (see later in this article) that you can consider the system “frozen & secure”.

The first steps

Now you should be ready to install the downloaded install package. First accept the license terms if they seems OK to you – next the Windows license is validated with Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) – and then the installation is started (no further questions asked!), it will take a few minutes. Click Finish when ready.

At your desktop, and in the All Programs menu, a new “Windows SteadyState” program shortcut should now be available. At first start up the very thorough help reference guide is launched automatically (see Figure 1) as well as the main WSS windows (see Figure 2).

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