One of the features built into Windows 7 is the ability for you to apply usage controls to other users of the same PC. In Windows 7 this is called Parental Controls.
I will say this up front – it is limited in what it can control out of the box. You have to install other parental control software from third parties to lock down other areas outside of its defaults. One third party provider is Windows Family Safety which you can download from http://download.live.com
Initially you can control a users usage times, game access based on either ratings or game by game and specific program access.
To get started just type Parental Controls into the Windows Start menu search box and hit return.
Here is what the third part menu looks like if you have Windows Family Safety Installed:
In order to use Parental Controls there must be a user account for the individual you wish to set controls for. Either click the account you want to apply controls to or click on the shortcut to create an account for that user.
Here is the main setup page that you will operate from to setup the three different levels of control. You have to return here to access the different areas you can place controls on.
When you click on the Time Limits option you will get the above screen and by clicking in the blocks and turning them blue that will set the time frames the user can sign into the system. Blue is blocked and clear is allowed.
The next option to control for the user is access to Games. When you click on the games option back on the main page you will get this screen. On here are two main options – Control games by rating or by specific installed game program.
On the ratings control page you can either choose a rating level of control or get more specific with the types of things any game contains. There is a long list of options on this page to choose from.
The second option of the main Games control page allows you to control games by name.
The final option for controlling a users access is program specific and above you can see what that selection page looks like. Just click the box next to the program you do not want the user to have access to. The system will search for all installed programs to populate this screen. If a program does not show up here you can browse to one with the button on the bottom of this page.
When a user accesses their account it will show a dialog box when they attempt to access a blocked program:
Here is what the games page looks like when their are blocked games:
If you do click on one of those blocked games you will get a notification window similar to the program blocked one:
That is the extent of the blocking and control abilities that are built into Windows 7. In my opinion the most useful feature is the times of access. For those of you with children this can be a great tool to limit their individual access over the course of a day.
I hope this proves helpful and would be interested in hearing how you implement these controls.