Windows Vista is Here
Windows Vista is the name of the next major version of the Microsoft Windows Operating System, and the successor to Windows XP.
Windows Vista builds on the security features of Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) and Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) and adds some deep-seated security improvements. Windows Vista includes integrated anti-malicious software defenses that will shield users from spyware, adware, phishing attacks, and other electronic threats. The system also includes a Secure Startup feature to ensure that the data on PCs stays protected, even if the machine is lost or stolen. The included User Account Protection (formerly Limited User Account) can be employed as a defense to electronic attacks as well.
Windows Vista will ship with 6 different versions:
Vista Business
Vista Enterprise
Vista Home Basic
Vista Home Premium
Vista Ultimate
Vista Starter
The Starter edition is only available in emerging markets (Third World Countries), and the Ultimate Edition is aimed at the highend PC Gaming market (similar to the Media Edition of Windows XP), includes the new graphical interface called Aero, and several “eye-candy” features.
Vista Business will be the basic version for companies of all sizes and includes tools that will help organizations manage their PCs.
The Enterprise version of Vista will have all of the features in the basic version and add to them improved encryption including a Bit Locker system that will stop confidential data being viewed if a computer is lost or stolen.
The Home Basic version is intended for those who only want to use their PC to browse the internet, use e-mail and create and edit basic documents. It will also include desktop search and security tools.
Vista Home Premium includes everything in the Basic version and adds the new graphical interface called Aero.
OnLine Plus Software and Vista
Distribution by Microsoft of the new Windows Vista desktop operating system began on January 30. Work has been underway since the business release of Vista to ensure OLP software will work successfully under this new platform and a Service Pack for the OnLine Plus Suite tested to work under 32-bit Vista Business and Enterprise Editions will be ready by March 1. Here are some things to consider in making your decision about purchasing Vista for computers running OLP software in the next few months:
1. Older versions of the OnLine Plus Suite (prior to Version 21.0, dated March 1) will almost certainly not run successfully on Vista.
Users will need to update to the March Online Plus “OLP” Version 21.0 to use the Vista platform.
2. Historically, problems emerge when using a new operating system in the many different environments we work in. It would
be reasonable to expect that for the first few months after the release of Vista there will likely be issues. If they involve OnLine Plus software, please be assured that they will be addressed as soon as they are discovered.
3. Based on this last point, our recommendation is to wait to implement Vista until mid-2007.
Microsoft’s current policies suggest that Windows XP will continue to be available for at least 12 months after the commercial
release of Vista. Mainstream support will likely continue until at least April, 2009.

Buying a PC
Each new Microsoft Operating System tends to require a little more hard disk space and better hardware (faster processor, better graphics card, and more available memory [RAM]). In order to include new developments and requested features, Microsoft will count on the advancements available in PC computing “horsepower.” Vista will follow this same pattern. While Vista can be run on many low-end or even older machines, some graphical features will not display and some delays in processing will be seen. Just as in Windows XP, some of these features can be disabled to enhance machine performance without sacrificing security features.

Deploying Microsoft Vista
Managed Diversity is the best strategy to bringing Vista into an organization. Just as software companies test and develop strategies for compatibility with this new operating system, businesses should prepare for the changes with limited deployment and testing for support of all the applications they use. Mission-critical applications and local area network management should be scrutinized on test machines before system-wide deployment begins.

Secure networks can certainly be built using Windows XP. Vista should make this a little easier. Experts will accurately attest that sometimes these security features cause problems for programs across organizations. Vista is vastly more sophisticated than its predecessors at letting users run the operating system in a restricted-user context, increasing privileges only where necessary, and doing so under the control of the administrator. A standard user account in Windows Vista is greatly restricted in terms of privileges. These restrictions prevent users from making changes, intentionally or not, to data and programs for which they aren't authorized. Unintentional changes, of course, often come in the form of malicious programs that abuse the system in various ways, such as setting themselves up to run at boot time.
  • Applications may automatically recognize limited user status and impose restrictions in the software like QuickBooks 2006. In order to run the software properly, the user must be setup as a Power User or Administrator. (QuickBooks 2007 is designed to work with Vista.)
  • Some applications are designed specifically for backwards compatibility with previous operating systems (Windows 98, etc.) and may not function as well under Vista. There is a compatibility mode that can be tested (similar to the one in Windows XP). 

Protected Mode in Internet Explorer 7, not available for IE7 in earlier Windows versions, follows a similar philosophy but is implemented differently. A new internal concept in Vista is that users, processes, and other objects have an integrity level.


Permissions problems will prove the thorniest to businesses as they try to integrate Vista systems into their networks. For this reason, companies should allow a testing period for Vista before planning a deployment.

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