Windows XP - New SteadyState Facility
Microsoft recently introduced it's new SteadyState facility, which can capture all relevant configuration settings as of a specific point-in-time to create a "gold image" copy of the system. This facility can be helpful for libraries, colleges, and even certain work settings where a standardized and locked-down system image can rolled out in a consistant manner to several workstations.
It may be desirable for home users, (especially where multiple accounts are used by different members of the family). It is also useful as an recovery method, when problems occur where users can bring back the complete "gold image" in a much more comprehensive manner than the System Restore function currently permits.
Windows XP - SteadyState Facility
QUOTE: Ever wish your Windows XP computer could return the way it was when it worked correctly? That would be great, right? We can all recall some point when a particular system worked just right. Enter a utility from Microsoft that does just that, and more than a 'System Restore'. It is called SteadyState and it can retain a golden image and revert to that state at will. It is designed to lock down shared computers that do not have a full time sysadmin, however it can be used in a number of scenarios. VMs are not always the environment of choice for malware researchers for example.
Microsoft Windows -- SteadyState Information
QUOTE: Windows SteadyState, successor to the Shared Computer Toolkit, is designed to make life easier for people who set up and maintain shared computers.
An easy way to manage multiple users -- You can manage whole groups of users as single user accounts. The new Windows SteadyState console makes it easier than ever to create and modify user profiles.
A locked-down platform for stable shared computing -- Not every computer user should have access to every software capability. Your system can be more stable and consistent when you limit user access to control panel functions, network resources, and other sensitive areas.
Set it and forget it -- Once you have everything set up the way you want it, you can share the computer and rest easy. Any changes a user might make to the configuration or hard disk can be undone by simply restarting the machine.