- "Steadystate" redirects here. For the process concept, see steady state.
Windows SteadyState 2.5 running on Windows XP
|Discontinued||2.5 / July 2, 2008|
|Operating system||Windows XP and Windows Vista|
|Shared Computer Toolkit 1.0||Released in 2005|
|Windows SteadyState 2.0||Released in June 2007; supports Windows XP SP2 Home, Professional, and Tablet editions|
|Windows SteadyState 2.5||Released in July 2008; adds support for Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP3|
Windows SteadyState (formerly Shared Computer Toolkit) is a discontinued freeware tool developed by Microsoft that gives administrators enhanced options for configuring shared computers, such as hard drive protection and advanced user management. It is primarily designed for use on computers shared by many people, such as internet cafes, schools, libraries, etc.
SteadyState was available until December 31, 2010 free of charge from Microsoft for computers running Windows XP and Windows Vista. A 64-bit version was never available. Windows SteadyState is incompatible with Windows 7 and later although the Disk Protection component was included in Windows MultiPoint Server 2012.
The final version is still available via Download.com and appears to work well.
SteadyState can revert a computer to a previously stored state every time it reboots, or on administrator's request. When Windows Disk Protection (WDP) component of SteadyState is turned on, changes to the hard disk are redirected to a temporary cache. WDP offers three modes of protection:
- Discard mode: The cache is cleared upon every reboot, thus returning the system to its previous state.
- Persist mode: Changes saved in the cache remain intact across reboots. An administrator may later opt to commit these changes. Alternatively, at the specified date and time, the cache expires and its contents are cleared.
- Commit mode: Contents of the cache is written out to disk and become permanent. In addition, new changes to the system are no longer redirected to the cache.
SteadyState can also prepare user environment. User accounts can be locked or forced to log off after certain intervals. A locked account uses a temporary copy of the user's profile during the user's session. When the user logs off, the temporary profile is deleted. This ensures that any changes the user made during his session are not permanent. The user's session can also be limited to a specified duration, or logged off if idle.
SteadyState provides simple control of more than 80 restrictions covering both individual users as well as the system as a whole. Many of these settings are based on Windows' Group Policies, while others are implemented by SteadyState itself. Using SteadyState, an administrator can forbid a user from performing actions that may be undesirable for that environment. Some settings include the ability to turn off the control panel, disable registry editing tools, disable the command prompt, and stop the user from executing batch files or programs not in the windows or program folders.
Computer settings can also be applied. Since SteadyState would normally remove any Windows updates or security patches installed, SteadyState can be configured to check for and apply updates in a manner that they will not be removed upon rebooting. Administrators can also choose to make other system-wide changes, such as disabling the welcome screen, removing the shutdown dialog from the logon screen, and hiding the built-in Windows Administrator account.
The administrator can block access to specified programs on a per-user basis. SteadyState presents a list of programs found in the Program Files directory of Windows and on the common desktop. Programs from other locations can be added manually.
Discontinuation and alternatives
Microsoft has discontinued SteadyState. As of 31 December 2010[update], SteadyState is no longer available for download. Support for Windows SteadyState was available until June 30, 2011 through the Microsoft Support website.
Although SteadyState is discontinued, Microsoft claims it is still possible to prepare a shared computer using Windows 7 native features and support tools such as System Restore. To that effect, Microsoft has published Creating a Steady State by Using Microsoft Technologies on Microsoft TechNet library. However, there is no direct replacement for the Windows Disk Protection feature of SteadyState.
There are SteadyState alternatives, such as Faronics' Deep Freeze and Horizon DataSys' Drive Vaccine, which are available on Windows 7 and also Windows 8. The Disk Protection component was included in Windows MultiPoint Server 2012 although Microsoft has not released a standalone version of SteadyState for Windows Server 2012 or Windows 7/8.
- "Windows SteadyState". Download.com. CBS Interactive. June 2, 2007. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
- "Windows SteadyState will be phased out (Revision: 2.0)". Microsoft Support. Microsoft Corporation. September 17, 2010. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
- "Leonhard, Woody (September 6, 2010). "Microsoft kills Windows SteadyState". Infoworld. Infoworld, Inc. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
- "Creating a Steady State by Using Microsoft Technologies". Microsoft TechNet. Microsoft Corporation. September 22, 2010. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
- "Alternatives for Windows SteadyState". Retrieved 2013-09-12.
- "SteadyState Replacement". Retrieved 2013-09-12.