March 21, 2006 4:00 AM PST

An inside look at Windows Vista

(continued from previous page)

Security and networking

Security
If you've used Windows XP in the last few years, you know security hasn't exactly been its strong suit. Numerous folks have shown that an unprotected PC with a fresh install of Windows XP can be compromised within minutes of being connected to the Internet. Microsoft has released a series of security updates and service pack releases over the years, but it has been tough keeping up when all the black hats are gunning for you. You can find a plethora of antivirus, antispyware, and malware companies shilling their wares to make up for the inadequacies of the PC operating system.

Microsoft hopes to walk down a more secure path with Windows Vista. Jim Allchin, co-president of the Platforms Products and Services Division at Microsoft, stated that security will be one of the top reasons to upgrade to Vista. The new OS comes with an upgraded, built-in firewall, new user-access protocols, a more secure version of Internet Explorer, a new version of Windows Defender, and sports new features like parental controls, full-drive encryption, and device-driver blocking.

User Account Protection, originally called Least Privileged User Account, helps users safely operate their computers by making non-administrator logins more appealing. Similar features existed in Windows XP, but they didn't offer enough power to wean users off logging in as an adminstrator, since many programs required the use of an administrator account, and simple things like adding a WEP code or a printer required full access to the computer. As a result, most users opted to log in as the administrator to get their work done. Logging in as the administrator is a double-edged sword. The user has total access to the OS, but it also gives spyware and malware programs unfettered access to core system files, which makes it all too easy for them to gain a foothold in the system.

Video
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A secure Vista
Windows' chief gives tour of antiphishing and parental-control tools.

For Windows Vista, Microsoft tweaked the user accounts to offer extra privileges, while reserving critical privileges for special use on the administrator account. Users should now be able to run all programs and change minor settings without being logged in as the administrator. To enhance security further, even if you log in as an administrator, Vista will automatically prompt the user for the proper credentials before continuing with a program's request.

Microsoft released Windows AntiSpyware to tackle the growing spyware and malware threat a couple years ago. The system, now called Windows Defender, acts as an always-on monitoring service; it constantly checks for suspicious activity and prevents unwanted software from installing. You can install Windows Defender right now, but expect to see a considerably more advanced version with the release of Windows Vista.

For the past few years, one of the largest weak spots in Windows XP's defenses has been Internet Explorer. Competing browsers, like Firefox, gained considerable market share simply because IE became a serious security risk with new IE exploits appearing seemingly every day. Microsoft has changed many of Internet Explorer's core functionalities with respect to security for Vista. IE will be "sand boxed", meaning it will have just enough privileges to wander the Web, but not enough to cause any real harm to the OS as a whole. Microsoft will also include new protective measures, such as constantly updated phishing filters, and quick cache clearing.

Windows XP currently offers a built-in firewall, but you'll get an improved version in Windows Vista that gives you more control over what gets in and out of the system. You'll be able to set what programs get access to the Internet.You can even block all IM and P2P applications across certain users. The firewall relies on rules set forth in the Windows Service Hardening platform. These rules limit how applications can access core system files, and whether they can access them at all. Windows Service Hardening acts to protect the core system in the event that a malicious program manages to get into the system.

Vista will also provide extra hard-disk security. BitLocker Drive Encryption, a hardware-based data-protection scheme provides full-drive encrypting. Enterprise editions of Vista will come with BitLocker and will require trusted platform modules for maximum effectiveness. This feature is more for the corporate user, but, who knows when a PC gamer might need to protect a Battlefield 2 config from nefarious siblings. Another feature that will only excite enterprise IT security departments, Vista can block unauthorized device drivers on the system. This means that you won't be able to use a USB storage device in a computer that has blocking enabled. The feature, while not particularly useful for home computers, will help companies prevent data theft.

Parental controls will receive a considerable boost in Vista. Parents will be able to monitor the actions of their children with detailed reports and control what Internet sites they can visit. Parents, or precocious administrators, can also limit access to the computer to certain hours of the day. Kids will have to keep an eye on the clock if they're in a 40-person Blackwing Lair "World of Warcraft" raid. We found that the system will automatically log the user out and prevent him from logging back in once the clock hits the time limit. We tried being sneaky by attempting to push the system clock back a couple hours to give us more free time, but the OS stopped us cold by prompting for an Administrator password on the date/time adjustment screen. (We were able to overcome the time constraints by going into the system BIOS and changing the system clock there.) Additionally, Vista will make use of ESRB ratings to help parents determine which games to allow their children to play.

Networking
Windows Vista will come with a completely reworked networking stack. The next-generation TCP/IP stack will work with IPv4 and IPv6, and will also support auto-tuning and quality-of-service features. Wireless traffic will receive numerous boosts in technology to better accommodate for lost packets, bad signals, and large amounts of electromagnetic interference. All these features boil down to better, more-consistent transfer rates for your existing Internet connection.

Compound TCP, or CTCP, helps to improve transfer rates by optimizing how the sender and receiver handle data. The software has a built-in feedback mechanism that responds to delays and compensates for latency. As a result, Vista can automatically adjust how much data is sent at a time, even varying how often data is sent, providing for improved data-transfer rates.

Quality-of-service (QoS) features will provide for improved audio and video streaming from local and remote servers. A subset of the QoS modules called qWAVE (Quality Windows Audio/Video Experience) will give priority to audio and video packets, while at the same time monitoring the network's changing conditions to adjust bandwidth usage dynamically. Microsoft is also working on off-network media playback quality. If you launch a new program while playing a media file, Vista promises seamless playback without any video or audio hiccups thanks to smarter resource allocation.

Windows Peer-to-Peer Networking, introduced in the advanced networking pack for Windows XP, will get a makeover for Vista. The additional changes in Vista will enable users to run P2P applications easily, with overall better performance. People Near Me is a new feature within Peer-to-Peer Networking that enables users to share files locally with friends without having to go through multiple complex hurdles.

From a user standpoint, the average person won't notice the difference because things will just work the way they are supposed to. Connecting to other computers, locally or over the Internet, will be easier, faster and hopefully more secure.

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61 comments

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Add your comment
MS should stick to games only with (Asta-la) Vista
At least then the poor quality of MS products won't kill people, harm busineeses, etc. in mission critical applications?

Does anyone want to be having a heart attack, only to find the MS powered heart monitor is being rebooted...give it a minute...

No Mr Jones, you can't withdrawl money from your account while the main systems are down with today's MS virus...
Posted by booboo1243 (328 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And NASA...
...needs to release the sound stage footage of the moon landings!
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
Don't feed the trolls, kids
Do all you anti-MS (that's the same as "M$" if you don't recognize it) ever get any new material or are you just going to keep spouting the same tired (and entirely irrelevant, for that matter) arguments until you're blue in the face?

You're angry. We get it.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Link Flag
MS should stick to games only with (Asta-la) Vista
At least then the poor quality of MS products won't kill people, harm busineeses, etc. in mission critical applications?

Does anyone want to be having a heart attack, only to find the MS powered heart monitor is being rebooted...give it a minute...

No Mr Jones, you can't withdrawl money from your account while the main systems are down with today's MS virus...
Posted by booboo1243 (328 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And NASA...
...needs to release the sound stage footage of the moon landings!
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
Don't feed the trolls, kids
Do all you anti-MS (that's the same as "M$" if you don't recognize it) ever get any new material or are you just going to keep spouting the same tired (and entirely irrelevant, for that matter) arguments until you're blue in the face?

You're angry. We get it.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Link Flag
No thanks!
Not looking forward to Vista in any way. I read this article because
it mentioned that it would talk about Vista in relation to heavy
gaming, but it seemed more like a paid article from M$. It didn't
mention at -all- the fact that having DirectX as a primary backbone
for the system is going to further decrease the usage of OGL,
making it harder and less cost effective for any devs to try to write
for OSX at the same time. I think I'll keep my XP box.... I'd go back
to 2k if I could.
Posted by Mori-neko (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It'll be some time before you see a game
that uses DirectX10. There's a simple reason for that, since DX10 won't be ported back to XP any game written to use DX10 automatically cuts off that portion of the market. Only when Vista and it's successors have a sizable portion of the market will DX10 games show up in anything other than "demonstrators" from MS.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
No thanks!
Not looking forward to Vista in any way. I read this article because
it mentioned that it would talk about Vista in relation to heavy
gaming, but it seemed more like a paid article from M$. It didn't
mention at -all- the fact that having DirectX as a primary backbone
for the system is going to further decrease the usage of OGL,
making it harder and less cost effective for any devs to try to write
for OSX at the same time. I think I'll keep my XP box.... I'd go back
to 2k if I could.
Posted by Mori-neko (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It'll be some time before you see a game
that uses DirectX10. There's a simple reason for that, since DX10 won't be ported back to XP any game written to use DX10 automatically cuts off that portion of the market. Only when Vista and it's successors have a sizable portion of the market will DX10 games show up in anything other than "demonstrators" from MS.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Nifty Visual Features
... are pretty much the first thing to turn off after a fresh install of WinXP, aren't they?
Sure it looks neat the first couple of times but gets old rather fast.
In my opinion they should spent less time working on those visual effects but instead on Windows Vista SP1
Posted by MaxRock17 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nifty Visual Features
... are pretty much the first thing to turn off after a fresh install of WinXP, aren't they?
Sure it looks neat the first couple of times but gets old rather fast.
In my opinion they should spent less time working on those visual effects but instead on Windows Vista SP1
Posted by MaxRock17 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Has Windows Bought into Strong DRM
I have been told Vista has very strong DRM. DRM is a problem for my clients now and I cannot recomend a switch fron XP pro if Microsoft has bought into these Hollywood intervention's into fair use of copywrited materals. Microsoft has been very coy on this subject. DRM can make a computer very user unfriendly. My clients are leaning to open source. I think Microsoft will have a hard sell if the DRM restrictions are strong.
Posted by bigjtk (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is one area...
That I am worried about as well. I am afraid that Vista is going to be a Police OS and try to arrest anything it deames in appropriate.

I don't know, if it is heavy handed like I am sure Hollywood and the Recording Industry would like it may be a junk OS right out of the gate.

Time will tell. I also like that the article noted that it was supposed to ship at the end of the year when everything else they have done said middle of 2006. It seems things keep slipping. I just don't understand why 6 years wasn't enough to get it out on time and with ALL of the features Microsoft promised.

Robert
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Link Flag
DRM is anti-consumer.
DRM is there to limit and restict the general public. It has no function that consumers want but yet we have to pay added on costs for its inclusion in the products that use it. MS must feel embarrassed by its inclusion in Vista. MS realise that DRM does not sell any type of product and that is why they don't want to highlight the DRM limitations of Vista
Posted by Frogfart (3 comments )
Link Flag
Has Windows Bought into Strong DRM
I have been told Vista has very strong DRM. DRM is a problem for my clients now and I cannot recomend a switch fron XP pro if Microsoft has bought into these Hollywood intervention's into fair use of copywrited materals. Microsoft has been very coy on this subject. DRM can make a computer very user unfriendly. My clients are leaning to open source. I think Microsoft will have a hard sell if the DRM restrictions are strong.
Posted by bigjtk (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is one area...
That I am worried about as well. I am afraid that Vista is going to be a Police OS and try to arrest anything it deames in appropriate.

I don't know, if it is heavy handed like I am sure Hollywood and the Recording Industry would like it may be a junk OS right out of the gate.

Time will tell. I also like that the article noted that it was supposed to ship at the end of the year when everything else they have done said middle of 2006. It seems things keep slipping. I just don't understand why 6 years wasn't enough to get it out on time and with ALL of the features Microsoft promised.

Robert
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Link Flag
DRM is anti-consumer.
DRM is there to limit and restict the general public. It has no function that consumers want but yet we have to pay added on costs for its inclusion in the products that use it. MS must feel embarrassed by its inclusion in Vista. MS realise that DRM does not sell any type of product and that is why they don't want to highlight the DRM limitations of Vista
Posted by Frogfart (3 comments )
Link Flag
Love the features of VISTA
These features have been working great on my $500 Mac Mini for six months now. And I didn't even need to purchase a $400 video card to make them work great. VISTA is going to be awesome.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree......
Stay put with your Mac-Mini and OSX, until you can aford a REAL operating system like VISTA...., then you can switch over and start enjoying what millions of XP users are looking forward to ...:)
Posted by sokorie (18 comments )
Link Flag
Love the features of VISTA
These features have been working great on my $500 Mac Mini for six months now. And I didn't even need to purchase a $400 video card to make them work great. VISTA is going to be awesome.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree......
Stay put with your Mac-Mini and OSX, until you can aford a REAL operating system like VISTA...., then you can switch over and start enjoying what millions of XP users are looking forward to ...:)
Posted by sokorie (18 comments )
Link Flag
No mention of all the new DRM
Will I be able to watch DVD's? Will I be able to copy a DVD? Will I be able to play or copy MP3's?
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not if
you buy the home version ya wont....heheheh
Posted by theoscnet (36 comments )
Link Flag
No mention of all the new DRM
Will I be able to watch DVD's? Will I be able to copy a DVD? Will I be able to play or copy MP3's?
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not if
you buy the home version ya wont....heheheh
Posted by theoscnet (36 comments )
Link Flag
My concerns...
I'm not completely anti Vista. I'm not even completely anti Microsoft for that matter. But I do have legitimate questions about Vista that have yet to be answered by any of the numerous articles I've read about it.

How bad is the DRM in this OS going to be? I know this has been asked in previous comments, but I'm just as curious to know, and it seems like all these articles about it either completely skip the issue or dodge around it. What about the obvious *and not so obvious* problems I see possibly arising from Vista's "security" features? Again, all the articles I've read about Vista glorify and detail the security of it, without even beginning to explore the ways it could be compromised. How about those of us that DON'T want our OS to use much of our system resources? This article mentioned that with the Aero theme turned off, the OS didn't seem as snappy - which gives me reason to suspect that the Aero theme never gets turned off, just skinned over. What about system stability? I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience an application crashing in XP only to take the entire system down with it, requiring a cold shut down.

So I'm just going to wait and see what the users have to say about it when Vista comes out, the hype has died down, and the nasties have had their time to play.
Posted by vixenk (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My concerns...
I'm not completely anti Vista. I'm not even completely anti Microsoft for that matter. But I do have legitimate questions about Vista that have yet to be answered by any of the numerous articles I've read about it.

How bad is the DRM in this OS going to be? I know this has been asked in previous comments, but I'm just as curious to know, and it seems like all these articles about it either completely skip the issue or dodge around it. What about the obvious *and not so obvious* problems I see possibly arising from Vista's "security" features? Again, all the articles I've read about Vista glorify and detail the security of it, without even beginning to explore the ways it could be compromised. How about those of us that DON'T want our OS to use much of our system resources? This article mentioned that with the Aero theme turned off, the OS didn't seem as snappy - which gives me reason to suspect that the Aero theme never gets turned off, just skinned over. What about system stability? I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience an application crashing in XP only to take the entire system down with it, requiring a cold shut down.

So I'm just going to wait and see what the users have to say about it when Vista comes out, the hype has died down, and the nasties have had their time to play.
Posted by vixenk (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ever used a mac?
If you have, you would know that 98% of these features have been
avaliable for a few years now, without all of the security headaches
in OS X. How can you write a story like this and not put it into the
context of other operating systems?
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I wish...
You Mac people has saying Mac has had this or Mac has had that. When will you learn that we Windows users don't give a flying snowballs worth of spit what your Mac has or doesn't have.

Just so you know Apple is just as bad a monopoly as Microsoft. The difference is Apple doesn't have enough users for the government to fool with. You can only buy Mac's from Apple. They are constantly comeing out with programs that cause other companies to stop developing similar ones (Adobe is one such company). iTunes only works on iPods. So can the bull we don't give a flying flip.

Robert
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Link Flag
yeah
i agree , the mac does all vista does and more and has done it
for a long time ,



g4 dualcore will finally give a comparison (with bootcamp) and
show this hopefully


rok on mac
Posted by olegnep (23 comments )
Link Flag
Ever used a mac?
If you have, you would know that 98% of these features have been
avaliable for a few years now, without all of the security headaches
in OS X. How can you write a story like this and not put it into the
context of other operating systems?
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I wish...
You Mac people has saying Mac has had this or Mac has had that. When will you learn that we Windows users don't give a flying snowballs worth of spit what your Mac has or doesn't have.

Just so you know Apple is just as bad a monopoly as Microsoft. The difference is Apple doesn't have enough users for the government to fool with. You can only buy Mac's from Apple. They are constantly comeing out with programs that cause other companies to stop developing similar ones (Adobe is one such company). iTunes only works on iPods. So can the bull we don't give a flying flip.

Robert
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Link Flag
yeah
i agree , the mac does all vista does and more and has done it
for a long time ,



g4 dualcore will finally give a comparison (with bootcamp) and
show this hopefully


rok on mac
Posted by olegnep (23 comments )
Link Flag
Hillarious
Wow, you need a kick-butt graphics card just to run Vista in it's normal setting?!?!? Awesome job MS!! I still have my 300MHz Mac running OS X without a fancy graphics card. I love it!! I think it's funny that in order for PeeCs to run properly you have to turn off all the eye candy or just simply UPGRADE. I think the only thing interesting in their "new" look is the 3D roladex windowing thing.
Posted by theoscnet (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hillarious
Wow, you need a kick-butt graphics card just to run Vista in it's normal setting?!?!? Awesome job MS!! I still have my 300MHz Mac running OS X without a fancy graphics card. I love it!! I think it's funny that in order for PeeCs to run properly you have to turn off all the eye candy or just simply UPGRADE. I think the only thing interesting in their "new" look is the 3D roladex windowing thing.
Posted by theoscnet (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes we've all used Macs, and we know they suck
Which is why the Aero interface is a piece of s--t. Just designed for morons who want "style" over functionality.
Posted by georgegliddy (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
? functionality ?
if by " functionality" you mean viruses

oh and if "the Aero interface is a piece of s--t" then why is vista
trying to copy it

hmmmmmm
Posted by olegnep (23 comments )
Link Flag
Yes we've all used Macs, and we know they suck
Which is why the Aero interface is a piece of s--t. Just designed for morons who want "style" over functionality.
Posted by georgegliddy (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
? functionality ?
if by " functionality" you mean viruses

oh and if "the Aero interface is a piece of s--t" then why is vista
trying to copy it

hmmmmmm
Posted by olegnep (23 comments )
Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by georgegliddy (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
re: Mac "jackasses" [sic]
re: << Look you Mac jackasses, .... >

My, such hatred and vitriol! It never ceases to amaze me how
much some of the most rabid Windoze fanbois (yes, YOU,
George) despise those Mac users. Please explain why you have
such hatred for them.

I know that some of them-- sometimes-- can be a little
annoying with their smugness, etc. But have you ever
considered that they are mostly being defensive. The reason
they are defensive is that they consider the Mac OS to be vastly
superior to any Windoze version and yet that fact is not
recognized by the general computer-buying public (both
corporate and consumer.) The reasons for this include a highly
effective marketing strategy by MS, a lack of that from Apple,
corporate commodity buying habits, and many more. Ah, but I
digress...

Yet, even given the above-- is that a cause for such bitterness?
Gee, maybe it's Windoze that has made you bitter...
Posted by keyboard55 (11 comments )
Link Flag
Ditto Windows Jackass
I was thinking about pointing out that you could see pretty much
the same silliness on a six-month-old Mac, but you'd have to
get the owner to reset it to its defaults. My mother - she'll be 90
in July - saw all that genie-effect stuff and the rotating cubes
and things and asked me if I couldn't make it go away ...
PLEASE???

There's been a lot of restraint in Windows upgrades these past
few years. Which is too bad because I understand the newer stuff
is worth the pain and cost of the upgrade. Much less of the
traditional BSoD and such. If there weren't a gazillion script
kiddies all looking for ways to zombie your systems for a DoS
attack on Fox News or to flood the nation with more spam, we
Mac types wouldn't have much to feel smug about these days.
Posted by dlmeyer (6 comments )
Link Flag
Can't Wait it looks great!!!
There are so many new and neat features that I cant wait to get my hands on and check them out.

It really is a big step forward, just a shame that it has taken this long. Cheers and congrats on a great feature set.
Posted by (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can't Wait it looks great!!!
There are so many new and neat features that I cant wait to get my hands on and check them out.

It really is a big step forward, just a shame that it has taken this long. Cheers and congrats on a great feature set.
Posted by (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gaming?
I noticed the article made a big deal about DX 10 and how great it would be for gaming but I've heard no mention of anyone actually trying to play a game on this power hog. With all those resources being consumed by the OS will EQ II be playable at all?
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gaming?
I noticed the article made a big deal about DX 10 and how great it would be for gaming but I've heard no mention of anyone actually trying to play a game on this power hog. With all those resources being consumed by the OS will EQ II be playable at all?
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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