Windows Vista: "Clear, Confident, Connected"?

Date/Time:
Tuesday 11 December 2007

Speaker:
James O’Neill, IT Pro Evangelist, Microsoft

Description:

As his job title suggests, James was on a mission to convince everyone that Vista lived up to the Microsoft promise of being clear, confident and connected and that we should consider upgrading to it now rather than, as is the custom, to await the first service pack. Vista was released 12 months ago and take up was highest amongst home users, followed by small businesses and slow on large corporates. Only 3 of the 50 or so people in the audience were using Vista.

Clear

James gave a short demonstration of the look and feel of the Vista desktop. This included translucent windows (in order to see enough of underlying windows to be able to tell what they were - hence the “clear” tag?), a side-bar to show real-time information such as share prices or transport delays and superior graphics.

Much was made of the improved search facility based on metadata. The search is all pervasive and as a result the user need worry less and less about folder structure and rely more on metadata. James’s “party trick” was to show that previously deleted versions of files can be retrieved by Vista. The final proof of clarity is the “my mum test” - is Vista so intuitive that even your mother can use it?

Confident

Does Vista meet the needs of all users (categorised as IT professionals, knowledge workers and consumers) and can they be sure it is reliable and it performs? Consumers expect to plug in a device and it works e.g. a Freeview USB stick - to this end if there is no driver present, Vista will request it from MS Windows Update Web site.

Reliability includes such improvements as screen drivers restarting when they crash and improved “sleep and resume”. On performance, Vista learns what your regularly used applications are and avoids paging them to disk. Diagnostics are provided for network and disk in addition to CPU and memory.

Deployment of Vista is simplified by having a single world-wide image (albeit a 3GB file containing the core 2.5GB plus varieties - Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate and Business). Reboots during software deployments remember the state of applications and return them to that state after reboot.

James admitted that the on-line help could be better but remarked that it is better than XP! On security, the concept of virtual folders is used to get round software that requires local admin mode. Vista warns users if an application wants to do something that requires additional privileges. Enforcement of group policies e.g. USB usage, Power Management, is improved.

The current emphasis on global warming sees Vista’s green credentials in the shape of power management. This allows sleep settings to be set which reduce consumption from 125 watts to 5 watts during sleep. For one PC this equates to 740KwH or one-third of a tonne of carbon dioxide per year.

Connected

The improvements here include support for DVD burners, gaming graphics, USB keys, and hybrid hard disks bootable from flash, smarter roaming for wireless networks (Vista adapts to the different networks), Bluetooth, smartphones and PDAs. On the horizon are Windows Sideshow and networked connectors.

Summary

Such was his enthusiasm for Vista, James could have continued long into the night but time prevailed and the audience were left to decide for themselves whether or not James had proven his case. Time will tell.

For those interested in more information, James can be contacted on jamesone@microsoft.com.