Vista to Gain Enterprise Strength

Microsoft's Allchin highlights changes.

Windows Vista is taking on a decidedly enterprise focus, with many features being designed specifically for the IT professional, from enhanced security and monitoring to new diagnostic tools, better stability and fewer reboots.

Vista, due next year, will introduce an event log that has been revamped and will give IT professionals organized and aggregated system views, Jim Allchin, Microsoft Corp.s group vice president of platforms, told eWEEK in an interview at the Professional Developers Conference here last week.

Although Vista is being designed for enterprises and consumers, IT managers will be able to use group policy to turn off some of the more consumer-oriented features that they do not want their staff using, Allchin said.

"IT professionals are going to love the base infrastructure improvements we are doing more than virtually anything else, in my Opinion, as there are so many core features that will save them money. The new deployment model and better imaging capabilities will also save customers money," Allchin said.

Some Microsoft partners and beta testers, such as Carl Bass, chief operating officer at Autodesk Inc., in San Rafael, Calif., said they are impressed with what they have seen in Vista. The new Vista design environment "not only provides a very rich 3-D user experience, it has a great tool set of cool graphics that will allow our users to more fully bring their ideas to life. Together, this new UI [user interface] and graphics capability will allow us to continue to deliver product innovation to our users for years to come," Bass said.

Memory enhancements are also going to play a key role in Vista. The Windows SuperFetch feature enhances virtual memory and optimizes memory. "SuperFetch lets us optimize memory so that even though we are adding more code to the system [through new features], the performance is actually better," Allchin said.

Vista will allow memory to be automatically added to the system when a device such as a USB flash memory extension is inserted. The data will not be lost if the stick is removed, Allchin said.

But John Kretz, president of Enlightened Point Consulting Group LLC, in Phoenix, said he is not impressed with what he has seen to this point. "Windows Vista doesnt show me much so far. I think a vast majority of users, both business and personal, will be just fine with Windows XP, and that has to be painful for Microsoft."

Asked about plans within Microsoft to increase the number of Windows versions that will be offered when Vista ships, Allchin said there are already a lot of versions, adding that some features might be changed without necessarily increasing the number of versions.

"Do we have enough features to do that? I dont know. Were out asking people now about that, and were still getting feedback, so its too early to say. Theres a very high probability that things might change and we might move features around," Allchin said. "We are also still developing, and we could hit a roadblock on one of those features. There are also many features that we have not yet talked about as its still very early."

Allchin admitted that initially there had been skepticism about the prospect of multiple versions of Vista but that the skepticism has morphed into positive feedback over time. Some of Microsofts partners also question how some of the products will be distributed, and the Redmond, Wash., company is still thinking about this, he said.

With regard to the feedback Microsoft had been receiving since the first Vista beta was released in late July, Allchin said a lot of testers had been trying to figure out how to turn on Aero Glass, which delivers the full-fidelity user experience on the desktop, including support for three-dimensional graphics and animation.

"In some cases, their machine and the graphics just [dont] support it. We are pushing ahead, hard, in terms of what we expect the PCs of the future to have around graphics power, and we will fall back so that you still get a good operational experience, but you may not have translucency and the like. Theres nothing we can really do about that," he said.

Allchin also made clear that WinFS, or Windows File System, will not be included in Vista when it ships. WinFS was removed from Vista a year ago but will be made available sometime after both the Vista client and server releases ship in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

"WinFS is not going to be part of Vista. We have the preview out there, and we are taking feedback. People will notice a dramatic change from the last time they saw it. We have revamped the way the schemas and APIs work, but it still has many more milestones to go," Allchin said.