More New Features of Windows Vista

More New Features of Windows Vista

Here are new Vista features that I either missed in Beta 1, for example, RODC, or have been added in the final version, for example Sidebars.  To me the difference is not important.

10 More Features in Windows Vista

Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

I think of WDS (Windows Deployment Services) as a son of Windows 200x’s RIS (Remote Installation Service).  Vista’s Key new feature of WDS is that it supports Windows Imaging format (WIM).  I have always believed that RIS had a future, well here it is in the guise of WDS.  Look out for integration with other services, for example, DHCP – option 60.  (Checks on port 67, perhaps it should be called option 67!)

To recap, the idea behind WDS and RIS is that you start with new ‘virgin’ machine with no operating system.  When you boot this machine, its PXE network card finds the DHCP server, from there it contacts the WDS (RIS) server and downloads Vista (XP).  The killer advantages over Ghost are that you can control the whole process by Group Policy.  It is also possible to include applications such as office in the image.

With WDS, you must have faith that this is a good technique, in which case you will enjoy getting it to work.  If you prefer Ghost, then good luck to you, but I hope that I have planted the seed that WDS or son of WDS is the way of the future.  My belief is that one day Ghost will be seen as an evolutionary backwater along with WINS and the NetBEUI protocol.

Microsoft has other improvements for deploying the Windows Vista clients.  If you need to migrate users’ settings, then investigate the improved User State Migration Tool (USMT) and new the PC Migration Assistant.  While a fresh installation would always be my first choice, Microsoft are making it easier to upgrade to Vista from XP.

ADMX – New Group Policy File Format

ADMX is where XML meets ADM.  What you need to know is that the Longhorn server will have this new file format, and that Vista Clients will understand and obey the corresponding Group Policies.  This new Group Policy format will not affect day-to-day configuring of policies.  You just need to be aware of is these new files and their location under the %systemroot%.  The benefit of ADMX is that the Longhorn server operating system will have all the policy files in one place and use the File Replication Service (FRS) to synchronize policies between DCs.

As security is not my specialist subject.  I have missed the latest Network Administrator’s paranoia, users snatching data from the network with their USB key holders.  Microsoft are on the case, and amongst the new Vista Group Policies, is one to control which devices which users can attach to a workstation.

Network Access Protection (NAP)

The idea of Network Access Protection (NAP) is to identify and then to isolate ‘unhealthy’ Windows Vista computers.  The number one source of ‘unhealthy’ computers is likely to be a visiting laptop.  NAP is a tricky acronym, the keyword is P = Protection.  Don’t confuse Vista’s NAP with Windows Server 2003’s NAT or NAS or even Network Access Quarantine Control.

NAP links with Group Policy, for example, you can define ‘unhealthy’ in terms of clients with unsuitable DHCP scope.  Other NAP protection includes excluding clients with an ‘unhealthy’ IPSec policy, VPN or 802.1x validation. See more on the NAP client server technology.

BitLocker Drive Encryption

BitLocker Drive Encryption is a new name for the full-volume encryption feature of Windows Vista.  Its crucial feature is that BitLocker is hardware-based.  By encrypting the entire Windows system volume, data is better protected than with XP’s file and folder encryption.  We are assured that recovery is easy – provided you have administrative credentials.

To get the most from BitLocker remember to buy machines with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Hardware.  TPM is an extra microchip on the mother board that stores the passwords, and certificates.  Apparently the Microchips cost less than $5 so, it’s not about cost, just making sure you specify TPM 1.2b (or later) when you order your new machine(s).

Vista also features Secure Startup, this foils the old trick of thieves installing a parallel operating sytem in order to steal data.  Secure Startup relies on TPM.  If you ever had to repair such a machine, then you need recovery keys.  Note: BitLocker Drive Encryption is only available in the Ultimate edition of Vista.

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I like thePermissions Analyzer because it enables me to see WHO has permissions to do WHAT at a glance.  When you launch this tool it analyzes a users effective NTFS permissions for a specific file or folder, and takes into account network share access, then displays the results in a nifty desktop dashboard!

Think of all the frustration that this free SolarWinds utility saves when you are troubleshooting authorization problems for user’s access to a resource.  Give this permissions monitor a try – it’s free!

Download SolarWinds’ Free Permissions Analyser – Active Directory Tool

Flip 3D

Flip 3D is Vista’s new way to Alt and Tab.  The idea is to allow you to see thumbnails with better graphics.  Even though I had a mouse with a thumbwheel, I could not get this feature to work, maybe my problem was related to my old Radeon 9200 graphics card.

Allegedly, this feature is so cool, that it will connect to a new hotkey on the keyboard.

IE 7 IE 7 Phishing

The first IE 7 feature that I noticed was the anti-phishing menus, and a flashing icon when IE7 was verifying the provenance of a URL that I had just clicked.  With the growth of ever more sophisticated and tempting invitations to rogue sites, I welcome this Dynamic Security Protection.

Incidentally, here is a rogue site which IE 7.0 warns

Microsoft employ’s User Account Protection with IE 7.0.  The benefit is that rogue programs cannot execute anything without the user pressing O.K.  Effectively, sites will no longer be able to hijack your home page and browser settings without you realizing.  As an aside, I am all for these security improvements, but I would like to say that these IE7 improvements mean victory in a small battle.  Microsoft (or Linux or Mozilla) have yet to the war with the hackers.  As the hackers fight more like guerrillas than regular troops, the war is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Other features of IE7 include a new tab feature which works like Mozilla’s Firefox.  I will be fascinated to see whether IE7 reverses Microsoft’s loss of market share in the browser wars.

Subtle Changes in Windows Vista

Hibernate and Standby combine to form – Sleep. Saves current data to disk and to RAM

Superfetch.  Son of Prefetch prioritise programs, Vista saves commonly used programs to special area of memory.

Network Map.  We get visual representation of how the Vista client routes to other computers, including Wireless Networks.

Network Awareness, remember Vista can be used on laptops, so switch from home to work networks.  See new features of Windows 8.

Read only Domain Controllers (RODC)

The benefit of RODC is one way replication for a Domain Controller at a branch office sites where there is poor physical security, little IT support and few users.  As well as having a Read Only copy of Active Directory, the server caches client credentials, rather like the way XP allows ten cached logons.  The RODC also has Global Group membership cached by default.

Guy Recommends:  A Free Trial of the Network Performance Monitor (NPM)Review of Orion NPM v11.5 v11.5

SolarWinds’ Orion performance monitor will help you discover what’s happening on your network.  This utility will also guide you through troubleshooting; the dashboard will indicate whether the root cause is a broken link, faulty equipment or resource overload.

What I like best is the way NPM suggests solutions to network problems.  Its also has the ability to monitor the health of individual VMware virtual machines.  If you are interested in troubleshooting, and creating network maps, then I recommend that you try NPM now.

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Developers use Visual Studio to make installing programs easier – just ClickOnce.  You may have already seen Authenticode messages if you install programs over the internet, ClickOnce combines with UAC (see above), certificates and BITS to provide a fast, easy and secure installation experience.  Watch out for the benefits of ClickOnce.

Vista’s Sidebars and Gadgets

Sidebars are in one one minute, out the next.  In the final release of Vista Microsoft has hit on the compromise of allowing users to enable of disable these panels.  Watch out for a rash of tools that you did not know that you needed!

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft or third parties make utilities, for instance, National Geographic and Wikipedia are making Gadgets that you can download from Microsoft’s official Gadget store.  See here for more aboutSidebars and Gadgets

Volume Shadow Copy

I missed this first time I looked at Vista for the simple reason that I had forgotten that XP did not have Shadow Copy, it was only present in Windows Server 2003.  The advantage of the Shadow copy technology is that it improves backup and enables Vista to create restore points on a volume by volume basis. See more on Vista Volume Shadow Copy

Windows Meeting Space (called Windows Collaboration)

Share your screen with other Vista Users.  Take it in turn to work on a file.  Use Microsoft’s new read-only XML-Paper Specification (XPS) archival file format to store and share documents in a secure way.  To create an XPS document, simply print it and chose "Microsoft XPS Document Writer" as the printer.  You can share the XPS document with other Windows Vista users or with Windows XP users who have installed the WinFX.

Open up a new world and test Vista’s new Mobile features. Launch the Windows Mobility Center with Windows Key and X.

Another 12 new Features of Windows Vista


Summary of New Features of Windows Vista

Beware of the horseless carriage syndrome** and embrace the new ways of operating in Windows Vista.  For example don’t revert to the classic menu in the Control Panel, instead make a conscious effort try the new of operating.  Seek out new features such as Flip 3-D and Windows Meeting Space.

** Think back a hundred years to the early 1900s when the motor car was evolving from the stagecoach. At first, the driver was seated on the outside, because, on the stagecoach, that is where he had always been positioned. Hence, an obvious name for the new invention was ‘The Horseless Carriage’. Then, someone checked out the new automobile features and said, ‘Why don’t we put the driver inside with the passengers?’ What a great idea. As a direct result of this breakthrough the horseless carriage was transformed into the car.


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Configuring Windows Vista Topics:


     Vista Tools and Extras