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Friday, April 4, 2008

Fast User Switching

Windows XP introduces fast user switching. Undoubtedly, fast user switching is the single most important feature that makes sharing Windows-based computers workable. Using fast user switching, it is not necessary for a user to log off the computer before allowing a second user to access their own account. Instead, the first user's account is "disconnected," which leaves all the programs running; the second user can then log on, and then the users can switch quickly between logged-on accounts. Many accounts can be open simultaneously on one computer, though only one account at a time will be able to interact with the keyboard, screen, and input devices.

In the home environment, for instance, fast user switching allows a parent working on a personal finance program to yield the computer to a child to work on homework by browsing the Internet, without requiring the parent to shut down and restart the finance program and without exposing the child to the parent's financial information. In the business environment, fast user switching can allow multiple users in a common environment, such as a research lab, to share a single machine.
Fast user switching is just one of two mechanisms that allow multiple users to work with a single system. Remote desktop, another built-in Windows XP feature, allows users to interact with machines remotely across a network and to access data and applications on those remote machines. While fast user switching is aimed principally at the home market, remote desktop enables business users to access their corporate desktops from remote computers-and vice versa, enabling them to operate home machines while at work.

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