Windows

Windows Vista is not just eye candy


Beyond all the glitz and

glamour of Vista, what are we really looking

for in Microsoft’s new release: security and reliability? These are the two

main features I am looking at when I tinker with Windows Vista beta 2 release,

formerly code named Longhorn.

Don’t get me wrong, I

love the glitz. The new Aero Glass interface is very pleasing to the eye. The

new and improved Internet Explorer is a neat fresh look and the way Microsoft

has designed the new operating system to organize your data visually will

increase productivity and is the perfect eye candy.

But even after looking at

all of these new features, I still want a secure, reliable release that allows

for easy deployment; I would trade all the eye candy for this.

Let’s talk about the security inroads this new release takes on.

Prior to this version,

Microsoft has supported limited user accounts (LUA) but it was very difficult

to manage without some tweaks here and there. Some of these tweaks involved

snags with running Windows Explorer and system clock.

Overall, they were too

difficult to manage and much easier to run with administrator access. With the

release of Windows Vista beta 2, we are finally seeing user security in Windows

that is similar to Unix.

How does Microsoft’s new approach to security work?

Whether you are a user or

an administrator, you will run the operating system with reduced privileges.

Don’t choke! Yes, by default you will not have everyone full control. And when

a user needs to work in administrator mode, a new protected administrator sets

limitations to prevent an application or task from going outside its

privileges.

Additionally, if you

migrate to this new operating system and you have legacy applications, they

will also run with reduced privileges by taking advantage of the virtual

registry feature that tricks legacy applications into thinking they have more

rights than they truly have.

Furthermore, when a user

needs to perform a task that requires administrative privileges, a dialog box

will pop-up requesting authentication. This is very similar to Linux when you

need root privileges to perform an administrative task.

This new feature is known

as user account protection (UAP); formerly known as least-privileged user

account (LUA). By turning on this functionality in Vista

beta 2, you ensure that all user accounts will be prompted for permission

before making any changes that require administrative rights.

As a decision maker, you

should recognize that the security enhancements in Window Vista beta 2 warrant

a deeper look. I believe many people will flock to this release as the security

features implemented into Windows Vista will not be backwards compatible.

So, if you are serious

about security and like the new security redesign, the only thing keeping you

from moving forward will be the cost and deployment.

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