Microsoft Corp. released on Tuesday a first public beta of the Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP, a product designed to improve the security and management of shared computers.
Microsoft made the announcement in Philadelphia at the National Education Computing Conference. Company officials said Microsoft is planning to make Version 1.0 of the toolkit available later this summer "just in time for school libraries and computer labs to prepare for the new school year."
Microsoft officials said that they have not finalized distribution or pricing, but early testers said they believed that Microsoft plans to make the final product available for free.
Those interested in testing the toolkit can download the Shared Computer Toolkit bits from the Microsoft Web site. As it is doing with a growing number of Windows-related products, Microsoft is requiring those who want the Shared Toolkit code to first prove that their copies of Windows are not pirated, via the "Microsoft Genuine Advantage" validation process.
As reported by Microsoft Watch in May, the Shared Computer Toolkit has been in private beta test since May. The product is designed for users who are sharing computers in businesses and homes. It is especially focused on users of shared computers in libraries, cafés, schools and other similar environments, testers said.