Microsoft Windows Vista
For years, computer users heard of a mysterious new operating system from Microsoft, codenamed Longhorn. In 2005, Microsoft officially removed the Longhorn codename and announced the operating System under the official name of Windows Vista.
|For years, computer users heard of a mysterious new operating system from Microsoft, codenamed Longhorn. In 2005 Microsoft officially removed the Longhorn codename and announced the operating System under the official name of Windows Vista.
A Brief Timeline of Windows Vista: The Long Road to Longhorn
Windows Vista Highlights: New Features Guide
Windows Vista Product LineupThe Windows Vista product line is expected to consist of six versions, two for businesses, three for consumers, and one for emerging markets. Each Windows Vista product is designed to meet specific needs of various egments of customers; home PC users, small and medium-sized businesses and the largest enterprises. It is also aimed at bringing 64-bit, Media Center and Tablet PC functionality into the mainstream.
Windows Vista Security
Design PrinciplesMicrosoft has discussed three key areas of security advancements in Windows Vista. Microsoft believes that with Vista, they can make computing even more reliable and secure. According to Microsoft, the following principles are reflected in the design and development of Windows Vista:
Windows Vista Security [Adapted from SBC: An Introduction to Windows Vista: Part 2]
FirewallWindows XP was the first version of the operating system to include a built-in firewall, which was followed by a much-improved version in XP Service Pack 2. Vista's firewall boasts additional enhancements, such as the capability to automatically stop all inbound traffic to a system unless Windows has been updated with all the latest security patches. In addition, it provides better protection than Windows XP's firewall by monitoring not just inbound traffic but outbound traffic as well. This feature lets it prevent unauthorized applications from sending data from your computer.
User AccountsWhen setting up systems, small businesses often create limited user accounts for many employees in order to prevent them from installing unauthorized software and to minimize access (and potential damage) to the system's configuration. The catch, however, is that some applications simply won't install (or even run) unless the user is logged in using an administrator account.
There are other unpleasant side effects as well, such as the inability to perform benign tasks like adding a printer or modifying non-critical system settings. The solution to this problem in Windows XP is to give users administrative access to their own machines, in spite of the risk that entails, but either scenario can easily result in lots of support calls.
Fortunately, Vista offers more flexibility with its significantly revamped user access rules. A new Standard user account replaces the Limited account and allows employees to perform many routine computer tasks for themselves as well as modify many settings related to their own personal profile.
Data EncryptionBusiness systems often contain all kinds of proprietary and confidential data and, needless to say, when such a system gets lost or stolen a company can find itself in significant competitive or legal jeopardy.
To help safeguard sensitive data Vista builds on the file-encryption capabilities of Windows XP with it's BitLocker feature, which can automatically encrypt the complete contents of a hard drive rather than just selected files and folders. On systems that include a special chip called a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), BitLocker can encrypt an entire system without even changing the way a user logs into the system.
You don't necessarily need new hardware to take advantage of BitLocker since it can also work with non-TPM systems, but in this case requires a USB flash drive (to store encryption keys and passwords) that must be inserted whenever the system starts.
More Secure Browsing In addition to the usability improvements discussed earlier, Internet Explorer 7 in Windows Vista also includes a number of security enhancements. A Protected Mode — which was first seen in Vista's Beta 2 and will not be available in IE 7 on other Windows versions — works in conjunction with Vista's new user account rules to limit a Web site's access to the system, which should prevent malicious sites from hijacking browser settings or copying any files to the system.
Whenever you go to a site, a phishing filter automatically checks it against a database to determine if it may be fraudulently trying to obtain a user's confidential information. Finally, clearing the myriad browser caches has been made less cumbersome, requiring only one click to delete your entire browsing history instead of the three or more required in XP.
Windows Vista Minimum System Requirements
Get Ready for Windows VistaMicrosoft offers a free tool via their Windows Vista Web site users of Windows XP can download, install and run to obtain a Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor RC. According to the information presented on the Web site, this small software tool will scan your computer and create an easy-to-understand report of all known system, device, and program compatibility issues, and recommend ways to resolve them. Upgrade Advisor can also help you choose the edition of Windows Vista that best fits the way you want to use your computer.
You can read more about the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor RC here. You can also visit the Windows Vista Web site for more information on the features and functions in Windows Vista.
Based in Nova Scotia, Vangie Beal is has been writing about technology for more than a decade. She is a frequent contributor to EcommerceGuide and managing editor at Webopedia. You can tweet her online @AuroraGG.
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