For companies eager to exploit the full potential of Windows Vista, the wait continues. A few of the operating system's features can't be put to use, at least not effectively, until the still-to-come Longhorn Server arrives later this year.
About 70% of the code in Longhorn Server and Vista is the same. Some features are made easier or only become available when the two operating systems are used together. Following are seven capabilities that depend on both:
1. Enhanced security: Microsoft's access control method--network access protection--is built into Vista and Longhorn. NAP lets administrators define policies that, for example, require that anyone who wants to connect to a network run Vista with the latest patches plus valid anti-spyware and anti-spam applications, or be denied access.
NAP is rooted in a quarantine feature in Windows Server 2003 that forces devices connecting to the network to be scanned, but only for VPN or wireless connections, not an office port. Longhorn's NAP will extend to all connections. Scanning also has had to be done via a script, meaning administrators write code to do a scan. Longhorn brings a graphical interface and preset options to NAP. Also, NAP will get the capability to automatically send the client to a restricted network that pushes out patches or disconnects it entirely and gives instructions to the user on how to get the machine up to snuff. It will be possible to install NAP on Windows XP, but the NAP-on-XP won't interoperate with some popular enforcement mechanisms and won't work without Longhorn.
2. Enhanced monitoring and reporting: The Windows event system--which records errors, inappropriate access attempts, and performance problems--has been completely rewritten for Vista and Longhorn. The previous version was text-based and not easy to search without indexing. In Longhorn and Vista, the event system is written in XML, so administrators will be able to pull down the start menu and search the event log right there, whereas in the past they couldn't use the search function to find something in the event log. Also, searching problems by application was previously difficult.