Defining Microsoft Windows Vista

Defining Microsoft Windows Vista

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Defining Microsoft Windows Vista

The intent of this paper is to provide a background of the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system development, including when it was developed, how the development process was management, what needs this specific operating systems was developed to respond to in the Information Technologies market. This paper will also analyze the correlation of Information Technologies and Microsoft's Windows Vista position.
Background of Windows Vista Development
Originally announced as Longhorn by Microsoft (et.al.) on July 22, 2005 to journalists and analysts it was released to public distribution use by hardware OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and the general public on January 230, 2007. This is the longest period of time between operating systems releases in the history of Microsoft. There are many factors that contributed to the re-inventing of Longhorn to Microsoft Vista; chief among them was the rapid rise of security as critical unmet needs across all target markets for this operating system. Microsoft's chairman and CEO Bill Gates announced the Trustworthy Computing Initiative in early 2002 which was the direct result of the security shortcomings in Windows XP Professional, XP Home, and previous generation client and server operating systems.
The Longhorn development cycle had begun in May 2001 according to Peter Galli (et.al.), and was expected to fill the gap between Windows XP and the more robust operating system code named "Vienna" within Microsoft. In what was a tumultuous period of Microsoft's development, in 2003 Robert Allchin, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer decided to stop development of the existing Longhorn operating system and revert to use the existing Windows Server 2003 code base as the foundation for Windows Vista. What forced these three Microsoft executives to scrap development of the existing development of Longhorn and begin over was the inclusion of a completely different software development methodology called the Security Development Lifecycle, reducing the number of security-related errors in coding by as much as 50% to 60% according to Michael Howard (ET.AL.) writing in MSDN Magazine. The re-write of an entire operating system in the new development methodology completed changed the development processes within Microsoft as well. It took literally a year for the pace of coding to approach the efficiency levels of Longhorn prior to the decision being made.
Microsoft Windows Vista Key Differentiators
While there are literally hundreds of new features in this operating system, too many in fact to list in a paper of this scope, it is useful to look at the key differentiators, or what makes this operating system highly unique that are its core technologies and those enhancements focused on security.

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Starting at the core technology area, the subsystems specifically for audio, print, display and networking subsystems have been specifically designed and developed with the needs of home, small and medium business, and larger enterprises in mind to optimize their performance using this operating system. The inclusion of IPv6, a standard for TCP/IP connectivity and essential for a network architecture, is now included in addition to support for TCP/IP window scaling for better security and higher network performance. Microsoft also focused extensively on core technologies in the wireless TCP/IP implementation to ensure secure access at potentially risky areas including public WiFi locations. In addition, Microsoft completely revamped the video driver and graphics display subsystem with the Windows Display Driver Model. This supports the necessary graphical support to make the Desktop Window Manager and Windows Aero graphical environments as efficient as possible. Microsoft also has been working extensively in their research labs on algorithms so operating systems can learn how to anticipate how people work. The differentiating feature of SuperFetch is a result of this research, and relies on machine learning techniques to anticipate usage patterns. This is in part due to the latent semantic indexing Microsoft is pioneering in Microsoft Research. Microsoft also anticipates the majority of users to rely on USB drives and hybrid hard disk drives. The branding on these optimization techniques is ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive. Highly differentiating security-related technologies includes a bit-level locking algorithm included in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions, enhanced Windows Firewall support including SSL and TLS cryptographic extensions. There are dozens of features for business users and developers, most notably being support for Version 3.0 of the Windows .NET Development Framework.
From the standpoint of Microsoft Windows Vista being suitable as an enterprise desktop, the inclusion of highly differentiated security features and the reliance on the security development lifecycle will be quickly tested and evaluated by CIOs looking for the increased productivity that Windows Vista claims to provide in conjunction with Microsoft Office applications, for example. For those enterprises with a geographically diverse workforce, the inclusion of these new security features will be aligned with their unmet needs today. Microsoft has learned well from previous generations of their operating systems when it comes to enterprise deployment, by including modularization of components including multilingual support, inclusion of Windows Imaging, and Nondestructive Imaging, and the ability of system administrators to complete unattended installations. This has been a long-standing requirement from enterprise users.
Summary
Windows Vista's long development cycle is attributable to the decision by Microsoft executives to move towards a security-intensive development methodology, and also design an operating system that was specifically developed to meet the unmet needs of enterprise system administrators who have the daunting task of managing literally thousands of PCs at a time. As evaluations in many IT organizations continue as of today (February 2007) the proof of increased performance by Microsoft of their redesigned subsystems will be eventually reflected in their sales of this operating system.
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