Features of Windows Vista - Part 3

Windows Media Center

Media Center in Windows Vista, available in the Home Premium and Ultimate editions, has been upgraded significantly, including a considerable overhaul of the user interface. Each button in the main menu, which contains sections such as "Music", "Videos", and "TV", gets encased in a box when selected, and for each selection, a submenu comes up, extending horizontally. When any of the options is selected, the entries for each are presented in a grid-like structure, with each item being identified by album art, if its an audio file, or a thumbnail image if it is a picture, a video or a TV recording, and other related options, such as different views for the music collection if "Music" is selected, extend horizontally along the top of the grid. Similarly, other items are identified by suggestive artwork. The grid displaying the items is also extended horizontally, and the selected item is enlarged compared to the rest. Other features of Windows Media Center includes:
Support for two dual-tuner cards
Native DVD/MPEG-2 support
Addition of Movies and DVD button which lists all the movies on the hard drive and DVD.
Tasks button that provides access to jobs such as setting up and configuring a media center extender device.
Any video playing is overlaid on the background of the user interface, if the UI is navigated while the video is still playing.
Support for high-definition (HD) content, and CableCARD support.
Uses the .NET 2.0 CLR

Internet Information Services 7

Windows Vista includes Internet Information Services (IIS) version 7, which has been refactored into a modular architecture, with integrated .NET extensibility. Instead of a monolithic server which features all services, IIS 7 has a core web server engine, and modules offering specific functionality can be added to the engine to enable its features. Writing extensions to IIS 7 using ISAPI has been deprecated in favor of the module API. Much of IIS's own functionality is built on this API, and as such, developers will have much more control over a request process than was possible in prior versions.

A significant change from previous versions of IIS is that all web server configuration information is stored solely in XML configuration files, instead of in the metabase. The server has a global configuration file that provides defaults, and each virtual web's document root (and any subdirectory thereof) may contain a web.config containing settings that augment or override the defaults. Changes to these files take effect immediately. This marks a significant departure from previous versions whereby web interfaces, or machine administrator access, was required to change simple settings such as default document, active modules, and security/authentication.

Security and safety

Windows Vista a more secure operating system than its predecessors. Internally, Microsoft adopted a "Secure Development Lifecycle" with the underlying ethos of, "Secure by design, secure by default, secure in deployment". New code for Windows Vista was developed with the SDL methodology, and all existing code was reviewed and refactored to improve security.

Some of the most significant and most discussed security features included with Windows Vista include User Account Control, Kernel Patch Protection, BitLocker Drive Encryption, Mandatory Integrity Control, Digital Rights Management, TCP/IP stack security improvements, Address Space Layout Randomization and the EFS and cryptography improvements. Additionally, Windows Vista includes a range of parental controls, which give owners of a computer a set of tools to limit what other accounts on a computer can do, and an improved Windows Firewall which supports both inbound and outbound packet filtering, IPv6 connection filtering and more detailed configurable rules and policies.

Management and administration

Windows Vista contains a range of new technologies and features that are intended to help network administrators and power users better manage their systems. Notable changes include a complete replacement of the "Windows Setup" process based on Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE), completely rewritten image-based deployment mechanisms, a significantly improved Task Scheduler, a revamped eventing infrastructure, GUI recovery tools, support for per-application Remote Desktop sessions, new diagnostic, health monitoring and system administration tools, and a range of new Group Policy settings covering many of the new features.

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