Setting up Vista for my 97yo gran

I’m at SFO, about to fly to the UK, and I have an upcoming challenge: setting up my 97yo gran’s new Vista PC. Oh, for a relaxing holiday (-;

My Gran is an absolute superstar and has been using an Amstrad Emailer for several years, becoming a capable text-only emailer (she was a secretary for 50 years so typing is no challenge!).
My family has decided to try an upgrade since the Emailer has a tiny keyboard and screen, has poor spam filtering, and does not handle photos well. The risk is that a PC is much more complex and needs to be as locked down as possible. Although she’s fine at typing, I don’t think she’ll be up to window management. She lives alone so there will be no local support, and I live 8 time zones away …

Ideally I’d like to setup email and web access in “kiosk” mode, so that my gran can’t inadvertently minimize windows, lock the screen, or prompt any other of the zillion potentially confusing things that PCs like to do.

Surprisingly I can’t find much on this online. I’m aware of the MS Accessibility tutorials, and Alan Cantor’s excellent guide for setting up PCs for older users. These focus on setting up keyboard-based control and the like. However, I think I have to go further and lock down the PC in some kind of kiosk mode. I’m hoping to setup Firefox in kiosk mode, or IE if I have to, hardcoded for Gmail as a first step.

Watch this space for how it goes …

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2 Responses to Setting up Vista for my 97yo gran

  1. cosmix says:

    For the use you describe above I’d recommend Linux, say Ubuntu, with a thoroughly locked down Gnome desktop environment and Firefox in Kiosk Mode. It would probalby be a much more straightforward and friendly experience than Vista (or XP) if configured properly, IMO.

  2. leo says:

    Hi Richard, I try to contact you using your public e-mail addresses, but none works. Could you contact me via

    its about PIM/Semantic desktop.

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