Although I don't really like Joel on Software, in this case he has the most appropriate rant to give the context for this post.
"Every time you want to leave your computer, you have to choose between nine, count them, nine options: two icons and seven menu items."
Ignoring the fact that I only have six menu items (no Hibernate), he has entirely missed the fact you only need the two buttons in all normal circumstances.
Sleep (left button)
By default, the left button is sleep, and it is the new hybrid sleep added in Vista. This does a combination of hibernate and suspend from previous versions - saving your work to disk, but only putting the computer into a low power state. This lets you resume work really fast and protects from power-loss.
Lock (right button)
The right button locks the computer. But wait, it also gives you access to switch user - using that giant blue button labeled "Switch User" on the locked screen. You can even shut down (or restart, or sleep - again) from the Switch User screen.
In his rant, Joel suggests that you don't need these at all:
- Switch User
- Log Off
While they are not usually useful, it's still useful sometimes to log off or manually restart, and switch user is a shortcut to lock+switch user which you might not remember or know.
In fact, there is only one option you might regularly need: shutdown. If you need this often, you're unlikely to need sleep, so the obvious thing to do is replace the sleep button with a shutdown one:
- Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options.
- Change when to turn off the display.
- Change advanced power settings.
- Power buttons and lid > Start menu power button > Setting.
- Select shutdown from the drop-down list.