Windows 8

 

While taking a look around the Web earlier today, I stumbled across some kiosk maker software that got me thinking on Windows 8 — specifically, if it made any sense for Microsoft to add something like this into Windows 8. Personally, I think there could be many applications for something like this in Windows, but I’m not sure this specific functionality would be worth the cost of Windows alone.

 

First and foremost, there are the scenarios where businesses turn computers into single-use workstations that serve very specific functions. For instance, if you go to a Verizon store and use one of their kiosks to put your name down on a list or browse for in-store products, etc. Or how about if you go into a Borders book store or something of that nature and they have the computers which allow you to browse a store-specific version of borders.com to find something you’re looking for in-store? Even still, how about the times you go to a store like Best Buy and use one of their machines to browse in-store products? The business kiosk scenario is one I think we can all associate with in terms of having seen and/or used them, but what are some other great scenarios for utilizing functionality like this?

 

Well, how about schools, libraries, and publicly-accessible government establishments? I can think of plenty of task-specific workstation uses for those types of facilities! Maybe a school, publicly-accessible government establishment, or otherwise would like to make specific types of records only accessible via a single computer whereby they could log all activity and not allow any other types of tasks to be performed on that computer. Where libraries are concerned, there’s always the need to be filled for looking up books, checking their availability, etc. And we all know libraries have computers which access the internet that are made available to the public, so there are plenty of uses for having something like this built into Windows 8 provided places like public libraries actually upgraded to something like Windows 8.

 

Naturally, the question then becomes affordability. If your only task is to turn a workstation into a kiosk, then maybe a piece of software would be your best bet. However, if you’re like me and you have a plethora of computers where you know you will upgrade them all to Windows 8 and you have that one desktop that sits out available for any and all to use (if you have parties, family get-togethers at your place, etc.), it just might be a nifty little tool to have available to you. Oh, and it can’t go without being mentioned that there’s always the concern of privacy, but whether you’re using a public computer that’s running some sort of proprietary kiosk maker software or a rendition of Windows (like Windows 8, of course) which provides built-in kiosk maker functionality, you should always be aware of your environment.

 

Anyway, I just thought this would be some nifty functionality added to Windows 8 and I can’t imagine it would be too difficult for Microsoft to implement. The number of people who need something like this is probably quite low on their customer demand list, so I won’t hold my breath. :)

 

-Stephen Chapman
http://msftkitchen.com

24 Comments

  1. Store catalog situation:
    For this, you’re *supposed* to lock down IE with group policy, even XP has it :p

    Library situation:
    A “kiosk mode” has already existed since XP. It’s called mandatory user profiles and while it’s a little tricky to set up, it’s worth the hassle. Best of all, no additional software is required! (In case you’re wondering, Windows SteadyState also uses this trick)

    The only problem is that the user *must* be a standard user, not an admin. But then again, if an unauthorized person can get admin rights even though the computer is “frozen”, I think you got more serious problems.

    To set it:
    1. Set up the account just the way you want. Set the group policy, set up the startup programs…
    2. Login as admin and Computer Properties > Advanced > User Profiles Settings > (select that profile) > (copy it to whatever place) > set “permitted to use” to Everyone
    3. Go to that folder properties > Security > (change it so that Everyone can read and modify, but not write, make sure you apply to EVERYTHING inside)
    4. Rename NTUSER.DAT to NTUSER.MAN
    5. Open Computer Management > Local Users and Groups > Users > (create a new user) > (open that newly created user) > Profile > (on profile path, set it to that folder)
    6. Disable the user that you just copied (since you don’t want people to login to there)

    When you’re finished and log in the new account, you will find out it performs almost like kiosk mode that you have been seeking for ;)
    To undo changes, just log off and log in!

  2. Here is example of free Kiosk style Windows7 made using free Microsoft tools (You need Windows7 license for commercial usage). http://www.wioski.com/

  3. Hi Stephen.

    Great idea now that I’ve read your article.

    I have sort of had the suspicion that MS are going to do something over multiple stages and it starts with the leaked plans for Windows running in a virtual layer on top of MinWin with Med-V/App-V embedded in in the Windows 8 package. After Windows 8, Microsoft could start to port ‘application layers’ from Windows oto utside of the Windows Shell as companion virtual layers so that they can be truly sanboxed – and the first couple of candidates for that are Internet Explorer and Windows Media Center.

    From there, Windows distributions could simply be for example: Windows MCE but in this new sense, which would be for consumption devices and Windows Internet Edition which would just be MinWIn and Internet Explorer, similar to Chrome OS and like the example you stated above. Unlike Chrome, though, you could enter a license key to unlock extra functionality if you wanted to install the Windows Shell, etc, as a higher edition replacement.

    And to be specific – I have a hunch that the Midori Project is exactly this – a web browser as a shell running on top of Windows NT. Midori could simply be released to market as Internet Explorer 10 and installed as an outside VM image in Windows 8 and 9 and a VM Image inside of the Windows shell in Windows Vista and 7.

  4. Lucky I stumbled on that information. I can seriously express that I learned something new right now. With any luck , I will have the same good fortune next time I take a look at your website.

  5. Hi, I work for a company that does work for exhibitions and have to Kiosk PC’s a lot.

    We have a solution for WPF and AIR applications by managing right click functions in apps and also trapping the keyboard firing event on touch screen. (use a custom UI keyboards instead of Os version).

    Then we have a couple .reg adjustments (hacks) to remove the touch gestures for swipe in to screen and corners. Also we disable the windows button. To revert the changes we just run a batch file to switch reg hacks and restart. Used on some XPS10 tablets and some AIO Sony’s.

    You can find the reg hacks with some google searching. I agree it would be good if it was a hidden menu in admin of OS.

    Cydex

  6. Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My website discusses a lot of the same topics as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Fantastic blog by the way!

  7. I am using Netkiosk

    Excellent kiosk Software and also totally free.

    Support are very helpful also.

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