Are Public Libraries Still at Risk Because of Microsoft?
By on November 16th, 2010

A reason to panic?

public-library-iconBack in April of this year, Yardena Arar posted an article at Windows Secrets titled Microsoft decision puts public libraries at risk.

What did Microsoft do that puts libraries at risk?

They retired Windows SteadyState. In case you haven’t heard about it, SteadyState is a free application for Windows XP and Vista which completely protects a Windows operating system from everything except a hardware crash. It makes Windows almost bullet-proof. Thousands of home users, internet cafes, schools and public libraries depend on SteadyState for protection. However, it won’t be available for Windows 7.

According to Yardena,

… not only is SteadyState incompatible with Win7, Microsoft says it has no plans to introduce a Windows 7-compatible version. That’s leaving some IT managers scrambling for replacement technology and others vowing not to upgrade to Windows 7 at all.

Windows SteadyState is going away?

I recently discovered that it’s not only unavailable for Win7, SteadyState won’t be available after Dec 31st of this year. That’s a twisted Happy New Year’s wish to everyone wanting to use it on XP or Vista. If you plan on using it, be sure to download SteadyState from Microsoft, before it’s too late.

Are there alternatives to SteadyState?

If you settled for the answer given in that Windows Secrets post, you’d give up. In the article, Yardena says:

Third-party solutions, such as Faronics’ Deep Freeze, don’t appeal to cash-strapped educational institutions, which are already spending considerable money upgrading to Windows 7.

Worse yet, if you listen to Microsoft, they’ll tell you that you don’t need it. Here’s the Microsoft spin:

We have just released a whitepaper along with an accompanying document that describes Group Policy settings that you can use to configure computer and user settings and also a reference excel worksheet which can be used to look up and filter the settings described in the whitepaper. (source)

What a load of techno-crap! Does Microsoft think a librarian, teacher, cyber-café owner, or home user is going to read their white papers?

What is my suggestion for replacing SteadyState?

Fortunately, a security company named Comodo, recently released a free replacement for Windows SteadyState. As far as I can tell, Comodo Time Machine does nearly everything SteadyState does. It’s currently supported and works in Windows XP, Vista and 7.

arrow-down-double-3Download Comodo Time Machinecomodo-time-machine-icon_thumb

If you are interested in Comodo’s offer, check out this Video Review of Time Machine.

Why do we need Windows?

Why does a public library need to depend upon Microsoft for all of their software needs? The answer from any Open Source enthusiast would be Get rid of Windows!. If you need some arguments to use against your library’s or school’s addiction to Microsoft, be sure to read about Windows 7 Sins: The case against Microsoft and proprietary software

Use Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)

If a librarian or teacher came to me and asked about setting up several public computers , I’d have two ready answers for them. I could save them money and practically guarantee that they wouldn’t have any spyware or virus problems.

edubuntu-icon1. I’d burn a set of Live CD’s with Edubuntu on them. They could disable the hard drives and put these in the CD Rom drives. Whenever the PC boots up, they’d have a fresh new operating system that’s ready to use and kid-proof.

2. I could also install Edubuntu on each PC normally, as this old timer shows in a video.

Conclusion:

Microsoft doesn’t have the answer, and they don’t seem to care. However, there’s no reason to worry.   Using either of my recommendations, secure and trouble-free public PCs can be created at no cost.

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Author: Clif Sipe Google Profile for Clif Sipe
Promoting Freeware and Free information since 2004. Owner of FreewareWiki.com with over 2000 pages of freebies. Please subscribe to my Google Feed or follow me on Twitter @clifnotes.

Clif Sipe has written and can be contacted at clif@techie-buzz.com.
  • http://leap-cf.org linuxiac

    YUCCCH!!! you must ‘validate’ your entire Windoze system??? I run
    ONLY GNU/Linux as an administrator and refurbisher of about 400 computers per year, for the County Library system.

    I only want it in order to verify it on a Quarantined machine, and then, to distribute it to the Library look up systems in 6 branches,
    on 50 units.

    Microsoft really SUCKS! It has the million Microsoft Virus/mal-ware/Trojans/Exploits! GNU/Linux is immune!!!
    Reason #942 that everyone is switching to GNU/Linux!

    • http://www.google.com/profiles/clif.notes Clif Sipe

      I agree. It’s a free program (SteadyState?). Access to it should be free as well.

 
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