I'd love to defend Microsoft Vista against Mac, Linux, or some obscure OS -- but instead, I find myself defending it against Windows XP. That's because all I hear is warring from within the Microsoft community about how unfair it is that they will one day have to stop using XP -- a sentiment perpetuated by InfoWorld's Save Windows XP campaign.
First off, no one is forcing you to do anything. The only step Microsoft is taking so far is to stop selling XP six months from now. If you want to keep using a seven-year-old OS with security holes a-plenty, go ahead. Who's stopping you? Hey, install Windows 95 too, while you're at it. But you can't expect Microsoft to indefinitely support XP when it's poured so many resources into developing its best OS to date in Vista.
The fact of the matter is, Vista is incredible. I've been working with it since Beta 3, and I won't return to that cartoon-looking XP for anything. Not only is it more secure than XP, it includes a host of invaluable new tools and applications (more on those in a bit).
Yes, Vista is more resource-intensive than XP. Yes, upgrading from XP to Vista requires putting some cash on the table. But Vista beats XP hands down, and the Save XP campaign amounts to unfairly criticizing Microsoft for adhering to a core capitalist practice: retiring an old product to sell newer, better ones.
For years, one of the biggest complaints about XP (and Windows in general) was its lackluster security. So in Vista, Microsoft created a slew of powerful security features, including User Account Control (UAC), Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), Windows Service Hardening, Windows Integrity Control, Windows Resource Protection, and other behind-the-scenes solutions. (If you've never heard of these, read chapter four of my book "Tricks of the Microsoft Windows Masters".) Microsoft has also included Parental Controls that reside at the OS level to provide added protection for families, and Bitlocker technology to completely encrypt the data on a laptop for traveling businesspersons.
These much-anticipated security enhancements should be reason enough for Windows shops to upgrade to Vista, yet they represent just a portion of the OS's advantages over XP. There's also enhanced collaboration possibilities, improved built-in diagnostics and self-healing, and simplified networking.