Monday, October 17, 2005

Windows Vista: Twenty Questions

Can you change the time without being an admin?
David E.
No. Because of various legal reporting requirements, the date/time stamp on files and e-mail messages can be sensitive information, so a standard user isn't allowed to change the date or time. You can, however, change the time zone, and that's what most people want. —Neil J. Rubenking

What can you tell us about the structure/architecture of this new OS? Is this a rewrite of XP?
Robert Dolliver
When Microsoft first started talking about Longhorn, it gave the impression it was going to do a complete rewrite. At this point, though, Vista is being built on top of the latest version of Windows Server 2003, Microsoft's most robust OS. But much of the core OS has been rewritten. The biggest effort was spent on going through all the code and eliminating defects. I'm sure it won't be perfect, but it's certainly heading in the right direction.
—Michael J. Miller

Have you tested Windows 95/98/NT3/NT4 applications with Vista's File and Registry Virtualization?
File and Registry Virtualization should work no matter which version of Windows the program was written for. This security feature is specifically aimed at "legacy" programs such as those you've mentioned. We can't guarantee it will work properly with these older apps, but it certainly is intended to.—NJR

Will older hardware—printers, scanners, and so forth—work with Vista?
Al Velasco
There's every possibility your old hardware will either require a new driver or won't work at all with Windows Vista. Microsoft provided an "Upgrade Advisor" for Windows XP to check for such conditions and let you prepare. We hope the company will do something similar for Longhorn.—NJR

If I try out Beta 1 on my home computer, what kind of functionality will I lose?
Alice Parker
The beta is "not meant for use on production systems." Translated, that means that you shouldn't install it on a system that contains any irreplaceable programs or data. Just about any functionality might not work, and many features aren't implemented completely. The product looks pretty good and includes most of the expected elements, but you shouldn't depend on it.—NJR

Will Windows Vista dual-boot with Windows XP?
Parthasarathy Mandayam
Yes, even the beta version will dual-boot. Use a partitioning utility to create an area of unused disk space into which Beta 1 will install, then install by booting from the Beta 1 CD. (If you start the install from within Windows XP, you won't be able to format and use that unallocated space.) Run the install as usual. Our observation is that when you boot to XP, you'll see two OS-selection prompts, one from Beta 1 and one from XP. But you can definitely boot either operating system. Note, however, that the beta does not install as an upgrade; you shouldn't count on being able to uninstall it if you install it over an existing Windows XP.—NJR

When you do a search in Vista, will the results appear as you type, as with Apple's Spotlight?
Douglas Decarme

Yes, the results appear right away. As with many third-party search tools, each character you type narrows down the list to items that begin with what you've typed up to that point.—NJR

Windows XP's search engine often failed to find files. Will Vista be any better?
Bob Smith

XP's search is incredibly mediocre—and that's being kind. Vista's search will be a huge improvement. Whether it will be better than the indexed desktop search tools from X1, Yahoo!, Google, and so on is questionable, though. On the other hand, it will likely be more tightly integrated into the OS than those other tools can be.

We use a number of 16-bit utilities. Will 16-bit apps run in the Vista environment?
Michael Hartry

We've tested some 16-bit apps and they do run, so there's a fair chance yours will work, too. But you'll definitely want to test them, because the programs won't be allowed to compromise the operating system's security.

Will I be able to install Vista on a Celeron 466-MHz PC?
Nikhil Baxi

Microsoft's stated requirements include a "mainstream Intel or AMD processor," which fits the Celeron. But the requirements also insist on 512MB RAM and the "designed for Windows XP" logo. I'm not sure your Celeron will meet that last condition, but Vista might work anyway.

What is your estimate on the time it would take to deploy the new OS, and how much employee training is needed?
It very much depends on your environment, but deployment should be much easier. You install and set up Vista using a single image file, and in some cases you can even add and remove features individually from the image file. The base OS won't require a lot of retraining, but of course there are differences. We'll know more when we see the final UI in Beta 2 (expected in early 2006)

Will the image-based install replace Ghost?
Robert Royce
No, that's not its purpose. Big companies will use a deployment tool called (at present) XImage to build and maintain their company-specific installation images, but the average user won't have much to do with these images after the initial installation

How well will drive defrag and drive cleanup work?
Rodney Hall
How well things will work and other performance issues can't be answered now. The beta is definitely not performance-tuned. Wait for Beta 2 at least.

Will there be a "classic" view so you can retain the Windows 2000 look and feel?
Paul Wigutow

Yes. Systems without the graphics power to run Aero or Aero Glass will automatically use the classic view. But you can choose to use it in any case, regardless of hardware.

If you do things like change the screen resolution or move the taskbar, will they affect all user accounts on the PC or just the account that made the change?
Robby Criswell
That depends. By observation, the taskbar position is retained on a per-user basis. But the screen resolution (at least in Beta 1) is global—change it for one user and you change it for all

Please explain what WinFS is and what it will provide. What is the difference between NTFS and WinFS?
Kurt Moskal
WinFS (Windows Future Storage) is a database-backed layer on top of NTFS. Or rather, it will be if and when Microsoft releases it. The average user won't see it; it's the kind of feature that makes a difference only to developers. Assuming WinFS does reach release, it may change the way we use the file system . . . or not. Using it, a developer can cause any object to be treated as part of the file system, including objects inside standard files.—NJR

Windows XP indexing caused a fair amount of overhead. Is this improved in Vista?
Michael Sexauer
There's some overhead with any indexing, but Vista's speed seemed reasonable on a notebook. It's certainly better than the basic indexing service in XP (but then, so are Windows Desktop Search, Google Desktop Search, Yahoo! Search, and X1).

Is Giant AntiSpyware included in Vista?
John Lanier

Microsoft has stated only that there will be additional spyware protection in Beta 2 or later. Since the company bought the rights to Giant's product (what's now Microsoft AntiSpyware), we're guessing that this product will be at least part of that protection. But Microsoft isn't saying.

Is Windows Vista a 64-bit operating system?
Dale Linneman
Microsoft has stated that the 64-bit edition will be released on the same schedule as the 32-bit edition, and that there will be very little difference other than the obvious ability to run 64-bit programs.

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