Mark Russinovich Live Meeting on Vista Performance

This just came in the mailbox:

"Join Mark Russinovich and a panel of industry experts for a LIVE virtual roundtable to explore your top of mind performance issues, common misconfigurations, and tips on how to fix them. From boot times and applets to disk performance and battery life, find out how to optimize Windows Vista and what you can do to improve overall system performance. 

Submit your performance questions live during the event or send them in advance to vrtable@microsoft.com.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
9:00am Pacific Standard Time".

The “Mojave Experiment”

Microsoft is going to launch their fresh attempt at marketing Windows Vista tomorrow, entitled the "Mojave Experiment" (pronounced mo-have-ee – after the desert). 

Microsoft has faced a lot of negative press about Vista, right from the early days, e.g. 2003.  The hardware requirements were pretty steep when it was launched compared to what people had bought in the previous few years.  Heck, I remember reading the requirements in 2003 when we’d ordered hundreds of PC’s and thinking that we might never run Vista – it required hardware that wasn’t publicly available back then.  When it hit the market in late 2006, there was plenty of hardware on the market that wasn’t really suitable but people bought it with/for Vista and had a bad experience.

Then there’s the OS itself.  A lot has changed.  I’m not a big fan of the network management in it (I am a fan of the new network stack!).  I’m also not a fan of renaming and moving things about for the sake of it.  Some things just seem hardware for the sake of it.  The security is locked down some.  A lot of legacy applications just won’t work on Vista so that’s messed up organisations with large application catalogues.  Comments like "give out to your suppliers" or "Use compatibility toolkits" don’t go down well with those organisations because they see that as unnecessary work – XP runs just fine as is so why upgrade for what they see as an upgrade for the sake of upgrading? 

I think MS might have gotten things all messed up.  I remember hearing the story of how MS were trying to market how "pretty" Vista is.  What?  Why does a corporate want to hear about pretty?  When Vista was launched all we saw was the new <ALT-TAB> and stories about some granny in the USA who wanted to burn photos on her DVD drive.  Why would a university or bank care about that?  The home user was alienated too.  The OS changed so much that old hardware was insufficient and trusted home applications or peripherals no longer worked.  How’s a home user expected to resolve those issues?  They barely know how to use Office and print.

What ended up happening is that most business consumers shrugged their shoulders and kept deploying XP.  Home users complained about poor performance and old purchases not working anymore.  CIO’s and CEO’s happen to be home users.  These decision makers saw trouble at home and didn’t want that experience on their networks.  The jungle grapevine is powerful too.  I see it all the time at social occasions when I’m asked about a prospective new PC purchase and someone pipes in about Vista being awful.

Vista isn’t awful, but I think it’s gotten mixed up.  There are some vast improvements and some things that aren’t great at all.

So MS is going to tackle the perception that Vista is awful.  They rounded up loads of people in San Francisco who disliked Vista.  They sat them down in front of a PC, asked them to try an operating system and video recorded their experience.  Surprise!  It was Vista all along.  The videos will be played online starting from tomorrow (probably night Irish time).

WinRE – Windows Recovery Environment

A new team blog has been launched by Microsoft.  WinRE is a derivative of WinPE and is intended as a replacement for the Recovery Console.  We’ll see it "live" for the first time with Windows Vista.  MS says:

"WinRE provides two main functionalities:

  1. Automatic diagnosis and repair of boot problems using a tool called Startup Repair.
  2. A centralized platform for advanced recovery tools".

WinRE is included on the Windows Vista RC1 DVD image.

Windows Vista Security Guide

Windows Vista is coming.  You can live in denial all you want but change is on the way.  Vista features lots of changes: h/w requirements, user interface, deployment, but most of all, the biggest changes seem to be in the security features and functionality. My gut is telling me that most organisations will be slow to adopt Vista due to the amount of change and the costs of purchasing new hardware.  But I do see it prematurely making it’s way into networks for a few reasons:

  • OEM Licensing: Organisations with OEM desktop licensing will start seeing Vista as an OS option from January onwards.  I doubt it will take long for MS to withdraw Windows XP as an option. 
  • Some applications will have an OS dependency.  Some cutting edge business applications may take advantage of new features available to programmers.
  • Windows Vista is chock full of new security features.  This may make it a candidate for complete or targeted deployment by security planners.  One feature likely to draw attention is BitLocker, a login integrated, complete disk encryption solution that makes us of TPM architecture for secure key storage.  BitLocker is a feature of Windows Vista Enterprise which is only available to Software Assurance customers.

January isn’t far away so proactive administrators and consultants should be making plans now.  Part of this is understanding the security implications associated with Windows Vista.  You can download a beta release of the Windows Vista Security Guide from Microsoft’s Connect web site.

Windows Vista RC1

Microsoft has released Windows Vista RC1 to the public.  This much anticipated release brings a lot of new features in user collaboration and user interface.  But for us pro’s, the main things of importance are the new security features, some popular and some not so popular.

You can get access to RC1 on the Microsoft website.  Beware that it requires a serious piece of kit to run this OS and the new Aero interface requires high spec and compliant hardware.