Vista Takes Windows to New Heights

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 11-26-2006
Finally, Vista is here. Was it worth the wait? Well, it all depends on how you look at it.

eWEEK Labs has been testing Microsoft Windows Vista builds for more than three years, and our evaluation of the final code shows that the new operating system is a significant improvement over its predecessor, Windows XP—chiefly in terms of Vista's capacity for manageability and the tools it offers knowledge workers for juggling their data. What's more, with a raft of subsystem and driver model improvements, Microsoft has laid out in Vista a solid foundation for stability and usability gains in future Windows versions.

For enterprises running XP on their desktops and notebooks, however, a Vista upgrade is no slam-dunk. While Vista's new UAC (User Account Control) facilities can make it easier for companies to appropriately lock down their desktops, for instance, it's quite possible to run a well-managed shop of XP machines, either out of the box or with the aid of lockdown tools.

Along similar lines, Vista's most important new goodie for knowledge workers—its integrated search capability—can be achieved freely on XP with software from Microsoft, Google and other technology providers.

Also likely to give enterprise IT organizations pause is the expansion of the product activation program that Microsoft began at XP's launch. This program requires consumer customers to transmit to Microsoft—either over the Internet or by phone—a code unique to their hardware. This assures Microsoft that each licensed Windows copy was installed only on one machine. Significant changes to the hardware installed on a system trigger a request for reactivation of Vista, and PCs that fail the activation check are rendered useless.

With Vista, Microsoft has opted to extend this scheme to its volume-license customers. IT managers now will have to allow individual machines to contact Microsoft for clearance to operate or deploy a key-management server within the enterprise.

Read the full story on eWeek: Vista Takes Windows to New Heights