eWEEK Labs tests of Beta 1 show that Microsoft is going in the right direction with Windows Vista, but there are several things that arent in the beta–and arent necessarily planned for the release version–that would make enterprise IT managers lives a lot easier and their organizations a lot safer.
Given the security threats prevalent in message-based communications, Microsoft should make installation of Outlook Express and Windows Messenger optional, instead of the default. And Microsoft shouldnt stop there. Now is Microsofts big chance to make these products more secure by providing users with better control of scripting. On the collaboration side, the temptation will be to make the recently acquired Groove platform part of Windows. And while a peer-oriented collaboration technology would be welcome in the Windows client, an open-standards approach to managing data is also needed to simplify integration with existing enterprise applications.
Vista can be deployed using XImage, a built-in disk-imaging tool, and it has a more modular design that is expected to make it easier to deploy. But one thing Microsoft isnt talking about much is whether there will be any new features or improvements for WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) that would make it easier for corporate IT to inventory and control already-deployed systems. Although improving configuration management is boring compared with mitigating high-profile security problems, Microsoft should leverage its expertise to make sure day-to-day operations costs in large deployments are minimized to the max.
To keep my computer up-to-date and secure, my system tray is bursting with automatic update and notification applets for the applications I use most. With Windows Vista, Microsoft should have created an open API for its Automatic Updates/ Microsoft Update combo. This would allow Microsoft-certified third-party application vendors to plug in to Microsofts integrated patching system to securely deliver their own patches and updates—without all the extraneous, resource-hogging applets.
The Windows Vista client is set to ship with some interesting-looking new user interface features, but Microsoft should look backward as well and reconsider the merits of older-school interface elements. Specifically, Id like to see Microsoft build in support for virtual desktops in Vista. As with tabbed browsing, the merits of virtual desktops dont become obvious until youre hooked on them, after which you chafe from their absence.
Its great that Microsoft is addressing malware infections with the new User Account Protection feature and with integrated spyware defenses in Vista, but these features target individual users only. Why not allow IT managers to more broadly implement these capabilities? Microsoft should provide IT managers with the ability to do more than just enable or disable protection at the individual desktop. Group Policy for Vista could be used to configure and enforce real-time anti-spyware agents.
Internet Explorer 7, which will ship as part of Windows Vista, needs stronger standards support. In a world where companies need to connect to a wide variety of Web services and applications, Internet Explorer can no longer exist as a proprietary corner of the Web. Developers need to know they can write to standards and have things work on all Web browsers, even IE.
Operating systems need smarter storage. The OS, not each application, should provide version control for selected files or directories. The OS should be able to e-mail or FTP a copy of a file, or post its history to a Web page, whenever that file is changed. The OS should be able to save high-priority work files automatically in several locations. Most PCs have hard disks, removable media and network connections; OSes should use them intelligently to protect my work.
As Microsoft ramps up the feature set for Windows Vista and the server version of “Longhorn,” due in 2007, it should think seriously about enhancing its CIFS (Common Internet File System) protocol by adding streaming file transfer capabilities. This would go a long way toward eliminating the chattiness that makes network drives practically unusable for remote users.