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Longhorn: Long on Security?


Let's face it, Microsoft is a lighting rod when it comes to security. In past weeks, it's drawn fire from McAfee and the European Union, among others, over closing the Vista kernel. Furthermore, the first Vista exploit was made public on Dec. 22, just three weeks after the OS's general release.

One bright spot for Redmond is Windows Longhorn Server, a ground-up redesign of the Windows kernel. Longhorn has a real focus on increased security, as well as simplified management and improved performance. To find out just how significant a change Microsoft's next-generation server OS will be for the enterprise, we brought a beta version of the code into our Syracuse University Real-World Labs® and tried out the new security features.

After weeks of hammering, picking and probing, we walked away impressed. As Microsoft promised, Longhorn offers significant security improvements in the areas of setup and configuration, OS modularity and client health detection, plus an enhanced firewall and a new IP stack.

More subtly, you'll find the kind of attention to security details that Microsoft products have lacked in the past. Take, for example, the best little feature that you may never even notice: While the Initial Configuration tasks wizard is running, the server cannot be accessed through the network. Touches like this bode well. On a larger scale, Longhorn incorporates Microsoft's NAP (Network Access Protection) technology to provide added safeguards for remote-access connections.

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