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Windows XP Home User Management and Security

Windows XP Home Edition is the replacement for Windows95/98/ME, which did not have
a real User Management and security system.
Although Windows XP is based on the Windows NT4 and Windows2000 technology,
the XP Home Edition has only a limited User Management
compared to the Windows XP
Professional Edition
, but it is introducing the concept of a "Computer Administrator",
who is entitled to configure the system, while regular users are limited.
Select in the Control-Panel : "User Accounts"

All Usernames defined during the installation of Windows XP are by default generated as
"Computer Administrator", while when you create a new User Account from here, you can
select the account to be "Computer Administrator" or a "Limited Account".

Use in the top-left corner in "Learn about" the link to "User Account Types" :

A "Computer Administrator" is allowed to do everything :
- install programs and hardware
- make system-wide changes
- access and read all non-private files
- create and delete user accounts
- change other people's accounts

while a "Limited" user is not allowed to install any new hardware, change the network setup ,
can not create new User-accounts, can only (like also the Administrators) :
- change your own picture
- create, change or remove your own password.

(note : the "Limited" account is on Windows XP Professional defined as being member of the group "Users")

You can implement some control over your system by being the "Administrator", while other
users (like the children) will be "Limited" users. But to enforce that, you will need to define a
password to prevent other people to logon as "Administrator", because the user accounts created
during XP installation are defined without a password : Double-click in the "User Account" screen
on the user(s) having "Computer Administrator" rights
(or click/select the user and use the link :
"Change an Account" )

Select to "Create a password":

Type a new password, Type the new password again to confirm (to check for errors in typing it)
and also enter a "password hint" for you to remember it (in case you forget it : most people tend
to forget passwords, if they do not have to use them regularly).
Important : While username are not case-sensitive, passwords are case-sensitive !

You can change the type of an Account for a selected user/account :

use the link to : "Change the account type" :

allowing to change a "limited" account to a "Computer administrator" and a account with
"Computer Administrator" rights (maybe created already during XP installation) to a "Limited"

What is the impact of using a "Limited" account ?

In the Control-Panel, select the
Network Connection icon:

(or right-click "My Network Places" on
the desktop and select Properties)
A Warning is displayed
and when checking the
Properties of a Network
connection, the buttons for
modifying the network
components are grayed out.

A "Limited" user is NOT able to create a new Connection (like a modem or ADSL connection
to the Internet), this has to be done as "Computer Administrator"

You can select at that time, whether
the Username and password for
the connection will be used by
all users accounts on the system.

If you have only one user defined with a password, then no Logon screen will be shown.
Once multiple users are defined (or only one user with a password), Windows XP will display
on startup the Logon screen :

You MUST identify yourself, first by selecting the Username by clicking on it and (if required)
having to enter the password for the user account.

The Help information about the different
Account types
showed for a "Limited" user
no permission to "install software" :

I am not sure about that : I had no problem
as "Limited" account to install WinZIP.

Summary :
Compared to Windows95/98/ME, the introduction of the "Computer Administrator"
is a nice enhancement, although the User Management of the XP Home Edition is limited
compared to User Management in the XP Professional Edition.

I checked in the Control-Panel in
"Administrative Tools" -
"Computer Management" :
no advanced User Management
as on XP Professional
(and also in Windows 2000).

If you need full User Management,
then the XP Home Edition is not a
good choice, you will need to use
XP Professional Edition.

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