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17.1. Introducing User Accounts

Like the Windows 2000 under its skin, Windows XP is designed from the ground up to be a multiple-user operating system. On a Windows XP machine, anyone who uses the computer must log on—click (or type) your name and type in a password—when the computer turns on. And upon doing so, you discover the Windows universe just as you left it, including these elements:

  • Desktop. Each person sees a different set of shortcut icons, folder icons, and other stuff left out on the desktop.

  • Start menu. If you reorganize the Start menu, as described in Chapter 2, you won't confuse anybody else who uses the machine. No one else can even see the changes you make.

  • My Documents folder. Each person sees only her own stuff in the My Documents folder (see Chapter 2).

  • Email. Windows XP maintains a separate stash of email messages for each account holder—along with separate Web bookmarks, a Windows Messenger contact list, and other online details.

  • Favorites folder. Any Web sites, folders, or other icons you've designated as Favorites (see Section B.4) appear in your Favorites menu, and nobody else's.

  • Internet cache. You can read about cached Web pages in Chapter 11. This folder stores a copy of the Web pages you've visited recently for faster retrieval.

  • History and cookies. Windows maintains a list of recently visited Web sites independently for each person; likewise a personal collection of cookies (Web site preference files).

  • Control Panel settings. Windows memorizes the preferences each person establishes using the Control Panel (see Chapter 9), including keyboard, sound, screen saver, and mouse settings.

  • Privileges. Your user account also determines what you're allowed to do on the network and even on your own computer: which files and folders you can open, which settings you can change in the Control Panel, and even which files and folders you can open.



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