Visual Tour: 20 Reasons Why Windows Vista Will Be Your Next OS

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Top Five Enterprise-Specific Vista Features

1. Heavily expanded Group Policy settings

Vista includes Group Policy support without the need for separate installation, and it comes with hundreds of new settings that can be used to configure limits and make the operating system better suited to specific corporate environments. Say no to USB memory sticks, for example, while allowing USB ports to be used for other things. There are also numerous new settings and limits for power management, wireless networking, printers, browsing and many other areas.


Vista's Group Policies functionality offers many new limits and settings.

(Click image to see larger view)

2. BitLocker full-volume encryption

Lately it seems that barely a week goes by between occurrences of potential data breaches, when some company or organization has leaked private personal information on customers, employees or citizens. In many cases, those catastrophes trace back to a stolen notebook PC. Nothing can eradicate this problem entirely, but Vista's BitLocker, combined with a trusted platform module 1.2 security chip, can lock down the hardware and fully encrypt the entire hard drive. The right procedure is to never have sensitive data leave your secured premises. But because human beings aren't perfect and never will be, BitLocker is a solid backstop to the inevitable.

3. Improved security for wireless networking, including IPSec

Ask any enterprise network admin what aspects of his or her network is the least secure, and most will probably admit to it being their wireless nets. And it's not really your network that's the scariest, its the many public wireless networks out there that employees are apt to use when they travel. Vista supports WPA-2 and IPSec. And it's specifically designed to protect against scammers looking to pry into personal data by spoofing the identity of a public network, an increasing problem.

4. File-based imaging for maintaining and installing Vista

Vista comes with new Windows Imaging technology, a hardware-independent image file format that allows companies to maintain just one main image file. Microsoft's compressed, modular approach allows variations, such as language, Windows version and 32-bit or 64-bit, to all be incorporated in one image. IT pros can also make changes to the image off-line, without starting up each desktop or creating a new image. The new image-based setup and built-in migration capabilities allow you clean-install Vista and then migrate user data and state/profile information.

5. Improved trouble warning, diagnostics and recovery

Vista ties together several underlying technologies with software that, if it works as billed, could cut down on help-desk support issues. The operating system offers improved automatic recovery, diagnostics, a new recovery environment with a start-up repair tool and monitoring-notification systems that companies can configure to send an SOS to IT help desk operations before a drive fails or whenever a device driver is causing instability. The revised event log and task manager should help IT personnel diagnose problems more readily.

Scot Finnie is online editorial director at Computerworld.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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