"Switch User" considered harmful

Tristan Wibberley maihem at maihem.org
Tue Feb 28 01:19:40 GMT 2006


Now that my trollish subject has got your attention :) I've watched my 
father on his Windows XP machine trying to grapple with the switch user 
concept. When finishing with the machine at a time when somebody else 
wants to use the computer, he will want to press switch user every time, 
no matter how much I explain the general rule "If you've finished with 
the computer use log off, only use switch user if you expect to go back 
on shortly". I wonder if something other than "Switch User" should be 
used. I also think he gets confused with clicking log off only to be 
offered something else instead - he might be trying to select the other 
option because he reckons the computer thinks he may be choosing the 
wrong thing.

Also, while "Lock Screen" is traditional UNIX fare, it can imply to a 
non UNIXy user the same as "Lock Console" would to folks like us (it 
could also imply as little as lock dialogue box, or prevent changes to a 
web page form).

In Windows XP Home, it has this nice thing where, when the screensaver 
is on, moving the mouse goes to the logon screen. I think it would make 
sense to do something similar and remove switch user to simplify the 
post "Log Out user..." dialogue and use lock screen for both, maybe 
changing its name to reflect that (like "New (or Lock) Session")?

Tristan Wibberley

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