Why I Didn't Skip Microsoft Vista: Security

Microsoft's Windows Vista OS continues to be dogged by a bad reputation, but some recent security reports give it an edge over Windows XP. And some users say security is precisely why they didn't skip Vista.

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Thu, November 20, 2008

CIO — It's been a hard road for Microsoft's Windows Vista, but even though negative perceptions have followed the operating system since its release, recent data and positive user feedback show a glimmer of hope for Microsoft that Vista's ship is turning around.

Microsoft's recent Security Intelligence Report shows that Windows Vista was more resistant to exploits than Windows XP in the first half of 2008.

In addition, veteran Microsoft blogger Ed Bott recently ran some numbers and concluded that Vista has a security edge over Windows XP.

Another security report, from last month, by Jeff Jones, Security Strategy Director in the Microsoft Security Technology Unit, cites that Windows Vista was affected by 50 percent fewer vulnerabilities than other desktop operating systems in the first half of 2008 and had 19 percent fewer vulnerabilities than Windows XP SP2 in the same time period.

Security reports from Microsoft touting its own operating system have been met with endless debate over the metrics used to crown Vista the most secure operating system.

Nevertheless, some IT professionals contacted for this article who have upgraded or are upgrading to Vista point to the OS's security as a major plus as compared to Windows XP.

(For the IT viewpoint from the other side, see our recent article "Why I'm Skipping Vista").

Vista Offers Better Search, Better Security

"The two features of Vista that are significantly better than Windows XP are security and search," says Scott Noles, Director of Technology and Education at Kinex Medical Center, a post-operation rehabilitation facility in Waukesha, Wis.

Kinex, an early adopter of Windows Vista, currently has it installed on 90 desktops, 22 laptops and is in the process of installing Vista on 170 tablet PCs.

Noles says the security features built into Vista's Windows Security Center, including the notorious UAC (User Account Control), have proved effective in protecting his users' desktops. "With Vista we can keep unwanted software and configurations out of our environment without needing third-party tools and with less effort than in previous versions of Windows."

A big part of Noles' job at Kinex Medical Center is making it easier to track and find patient data, and the search capabilities in Vista are more user-friendly and faster than those in XP, he says.

"Vista's ability to find files, applications and pieces of data whether it is in e-mail, network shares or on the local computers has allowed our employees to be more efficient."

Farther south, Jim Osteen, Assistant Director of IT for the City of Miami, is in the process of upgrading to Windows Vista. Currently, Osteen has Vista installed on 100 workstations, with a goal of 900 workstation installations by September, 2009.

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