"All the security things in here [in Beta 1] is good stuff. The [User Account Protection] is a really important feature that I think will be received well by users. And the quarantine technology, which they have been talking about for a while, is also a good thing. You don't want someone coming into the network that could potentially bring something harmful in with them," said Al Gillen, research director in charge of system software for IDC.
In yet another security move, Microsoft is making available to Vista users anti-phishing support via a global database that contains a list of Web sites known to be dangerous. If users are suspicious about whether a site is safe for them to visit, they can query that database to see if the site is on the list.
To make deploying Windows Vista easier to thousands of users, many of whom have individual desktop computing needs, Microsoft has added a new capability that allows administrators to use a single image of the operating system to deliver multiple variations of that image.
"This allows administrators to deliver the same product but with different languages and applications. It will eliminate the need to rebuild images for individual users, which will save time and money," said Debra Weissman, director of program management for Microsoft.
While both Charney and Weissman admit Microsoft has a long way to go in terms of performance of the system, the company has included in this beta Instant On, a new sleep mode state that allows users to bring their systems back up quickly, as well as improvements in memory management designed to quicken overall system performance.
While analysts think Microsoft has made a solid first step in addressing many of Windows shortcomings, some caution corporate and third-party developers that Vista is still early in its testing phase and to proceed cautiously before hardening their development plans.
"This should be used as a tool to help developers understand where Microsoft is going and for users to gain a sense of how they can leverage this technology in their environments. It is premature though for them to finalize product development plans because there is still lots of time for features to come in and go out at this point," said IDC's Gillen.
As part of this week's briefing to reporters, Microsoft again showed off some of the virtualization and visualization improvements it plans to make available in the product, including virtual folders and icons that graphically depict their content by providing live snapshots of the documents. Company officials also showed off how documents and a range of other types of files can be created and organized based on metadata, authors, subjects, and keywords.