Ready or Not, Here Comes Vista
For those of you who have just gotten used to the ins and outs of Windows XP, sit down and take a long, deep breath—Microsoft’s new Windows Vista operating system has arrived to give your offices and classrooms badly needed, updated functions.
The company’s Aero technology brings a new look to Windows, and the desktop is no longer a place just to stash icons, a move that mirrors the recent changes by Apple to OS X. Vista allows the embedding of what the company calls Gadgets on the screen to display live data, and the OS comes with 13 gadgets, including a calculator, contact list, and nifty performance gauges. You can also create school-specific ones, such as a calendar of upcoming events or a countdown test timer.
Vista’s modular structure allows school administrators to easily pick and choose the features to include while the new Account Control goes beyond letting students, teachers, and staff share computers with the ability to decide what changes can be made to a computer. This is a powerful tool that enables school administrators to lock down a PC’s settings, limiting what students and teachers can change and install.
With hackers lurking around every web site, security is also now a top priority for Microsoft. Vista has Defender to protect against most viruses, worms, and spyware. But if a computer gets taken over by a virus, the OS has been designed so that it won’t infect other PCs on the network. A big help for administrators is BitLocker, which uses encryption to scramble sensitive data to keep them away from prying eyes.
We applaud Microsoft’s newfound security ethic, but OS designers are always fighting (and often losing) the last war. We expect a slew of security updates in the coming months as hackers find and exploit Vista’s flaws.