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Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise Community Technology Preview Fact Sheet
Fact Sheet

February 2006

The Microsoft® Windows Vista™ Community Technology Preview (CTP) released today is the fourth in a series of early Windows Vista builds being released to an extensive technical community. The CTP program was designed to involve customers and partners in the various stages of Windows Vista development by facilitating timely and relevant feedback.

As with previous Windows Vista CTPs, this CTP will be distributed to testers in the Windows Vista Technical Beta Program, and will be available to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN®) and TechNet subscribers.

Windows Vista Means Business

Windows Vista delivers great value to businesses by seamlessly connecting people to information, enabling increased mobile and remote productivity, significantly reducing deployment and support costs, and providing a more secure and compliant desktop platform. Microsoft Corp. has enhanced the features and capabilities within Windows Vista as well as the suite of deployment and upgrade tools specifically to support the corporate IT professional and to make it easier to deploy and use Windows Vista in a business environment. With this release, Microsoft is encouraging enterprises to begin deploying and testing Windows Vista on a limited number of machines in a nonproduction environment and to begin learning about the innovative deployment technologies being offered along with Windows Vista, which are designed to help IT professionals jump-start and better manage the deployment process.

New and Enhanced Deployment Tools and Technologies

According to Microsoft research manual deployments can cost upwards of $1,000 per PC. With the advanced deployment tools and technologies delivered with Windows Vista, Microsoft focused on simplifying the deployment process. Utilizing the deployment capabilities and tools available with Windows Vista along with a modern IT infrastructure will make it easier for businesses to reduce cost-per-desktop deployment into the sub-$100 range.

Windows Vista image-based deployment makes the deployment process as efficient as possible. Images, or structured files containing machine instructions and data, are the fastest way to deploy an operating system, but they have not historically been part of the standard installation of the Windows® operating system, requiring additional software and many hours of labor to maintain. To help reduce the complexity of the deployment process, Microsoft based the installation of Windows Vista on the file-based disk imaging format called Windows Imaging Format (WIM), modularized Windows Vista to make customization and deployment of the images easier, and made other significant deployment enhancements to the core operating system.

In addition, Microsoft has focused on creating a complete set of tools and technologies that enable an IT professional to plan, test, build and deploy desktops across an organization more efficiently than ever. These tools include the following:

Tools for planning

Enhanced Business Desktop Deployment. With Windows Vista, Microsoft will release the next version of its Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) solution to provide best practices that enable simple, repeatable and cost-effective desktop deployment. The solution includes application compatibility enhancements, end-to-end monitoring during and after deployment, and extensive documentation to help enterprises and small businesses utilize consistent and repeatable desktop deployment methodology.

Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT). Microsoft recommends that enterprises use the existing Application Compatibility Toolkit 4.1 to inventory their environment and their applications. This tool will help organizations get a head start in understanding the scope of applications within their enterprise. The next version of the Application Compatibility Toolkit, version 5.0, is scheduled to be available in prerelease form in the second half of this year. Microsoft encourages customers to further test their applications with ACT 5.0 and Windows Vista at that time.

Tools for testing, building and deploying

Windows Automated Installation Kit. An enhanced version of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) is available on the Windows Connect site at http://connect.microsoft.com. This suite of tools is designed to help corporate IT professionals deploy Windows Vista onto their desktops. Microsoft has completely redesigned these installation technologies for Windows Vista to meet OEM and corporate deployment requirements and enhance flexibility, reliability and performance. These tools comprise an end-to-end solution for planning, engineering and deploying desktops, and include the following:

Windows System Image Manager. The Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM) brings a set of significantly improved image creation technologies to Windows Vista IT professionals that makes it easier to customize, add and configure components — such as a new language component or a set of device drivers — within an image. As well, with Windows SIM users can now create an unattended Extensible Markup Language (XML) answer file, or list of instructions, to edit and configure components offline within a system image. This same list can then be incorporated online in the installation process during system setup, causing specific instructions to configure the desktop to engage automatically as the image is being deployed to the PC.

Windows Deployment Services. Windows Deployment Services is the updated and redesigned version of Remote Installation Services for the next version of Windows Server, code-named “Longhorn.” Windows Deployment Services is a complete solution for remotely deploying Windows-based operating systems through network-based installation. It reduces the management costs associated with deployment by providing IT managers with a way to deploy Windows Vista across their desktop environment without having to be physically present at each computer or having to install it directly from CD, DVD or other physical media.

Windows Preinstallation Environment 2.0. The Windows AIK tool suite also includes a test version of the Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) that works in conjunction with this Windows Vista CTP. Windows PE 2.0 replaces MS-DOS® as the standard deployment environment for Windows Vista. Windows PE 2.0 is now freely available to all corporate customers. Windows PE 2.0 includes the following deployment advances:

A pre-installation boot environment has features for installing drivers, troubleshooting and recovery of the operating system. Nearly all Windows Vista deployment tools will take advantage of Windows PE to significantly streamline processes and reduce the cost of deployment.

In enterprise environments, Windows PE will enable IT departments to create scripts and applications to further automate deployment. For example, an IT administrator could set up a Windows Deployment Services remote deployment infrastructure, create a configuration script (or program instruction), and build a custom Windows PE image (by adding drivers) to enable a highly automated deployment process — saving money and making better use of limited IT resources

User State Migration Tool 3.0. This enterprise tool is focused on making sure that user settings and data transfer well from previous versions of Windows to Windows Vista. The User State Migration Tool includes new and improved functions, including encryption capabilities for more secure migrations that are completely scriptable and can run unattended, which enables IT professionals to easily develop XML-based scripts for enterprisewide migration. By ensuring an easy transition to the new operating system, enterprises will significantly reduce costs associated with a loss in end-user productivity.

Enhanced imaging technologies. The toolkit also includes numerous enhancements to the Ximage tool and the Windows Imaging technologies. These improvements enable IT professionals to create images that span multiple CDs, choose different compression options, and edit images offline, addressing varying imaging scenarios as well as optimizing deployments. More information about these imaging tools can be found on the Windows Vista TechNet site at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsvista.

Improved Desktop Management

Another important element of Windows Vista is the improved overall manageability of the desktop. Windows Vista will significantly improve the overall manageability by delivering features that decrease the cost of keeping systems up to date, reduce the risk of disruptive changes to the desktop by users or applications, and improve the ease of centrally managing desktop settings and configurations. Manageability enhancements in Windows Vista include the following:

An enhanced Microsoft Management Console 3.0. The Microsoft Management Console (MMC) is a framework for managing Microsoft Windows-based environments. MMC provides a simple, consistent and integrated user interface and administration model. In Windows Vista, the Microsoft Management Console 3.0 is enhanced to improve reliability and enable a more consistent administrative experience. For example, actions are now exposed on an Action Pane, so administrators can more easily discover the capabilities of any management tool that uses the MMC framework. Reliability is improved by a task model that enables multiple management takes to run in parallel.

Improvements to Group Policy. Group Policy enables IT administrators to automate one-to-many management of users and computers, simplifying administrative tasks and reducing IT costs. In Windows Vista, enhancements to Group Policy offer more reliable and secure application of policy settings and greater responsiveness to changing network conditions. The enhanced Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) is now integrated into the operating system. Finally, Group Policy now supports multiple local Group Policy objects, allowing an IT administrator to establish different policies for different users on the same machine. This improves security and manageability in shared-use environments such as libraries and schools. Additional enhancements to Group Policy include these:

Expanded policy settings. Group Policy settings have been expanded to cover a number of new scenarios that include printers, troubleshooting and diagnostics, and power management. In addition, Internet settings and Internet protocol security (IPsec) and firewall settings are now integrated with Group Policy, enabling centralized control for these important policy settings.

Control over removable storage devices. In response to requests from enterprise customers, Windows Vista also includes policy settings to provide centralized control over removable storage devices. Two types of policy settings are available in Windows Vista: those that allow IT professionals to control device installation by specifying what types of devices can and cannot be installed on a given machine. In addition, Windows Vista provides Group Policy settings that allow administrators to specify read/write access for the removable storage devices that have been installed. This allows administrators to have very granular control over removable storage devices and create profiles based on user or machine.

New instrumentation and events. Instrumentation and events offers insight into what is happening inside Windows and are the foundation for effective management. IT professionals need this information — and well-designed tools to access it — to perform common management tasks such as troubleshooting problems, monitoring performance and managing system configurations. New and enhanced instrumentation and events features include the following:

Enhanced Windows event logging service. This feature provides ongoing information about system operations by letting Windows components flag and keep track of events. In Windows Vista, events must meet strict standards to ensure that they are meaningful, can be acted on and are well documented.

A new Event Viewer. In addition to providing improved performance and scalability, the Windows Vista Event Viewer enables users to filter and sort events, control which type of events are logged, more easily discover events, and attach a task to a given event.

Task Scheduler. Windows Vista features a new Task Scheduler that provides controlled, unattended management of tasks launched either according to a schedule or in response to events or system state changes. This feature enables proactive, ad-hoc system management that saves IT professionals valuable time and resources. A task can notify an IT professional of a problem on a desktop by e-mail, and it can launch a diagnostic program or an automated resolution — even when the machine is in standby or hibernate mode. Administrators can also set up more complex and demanding tasks to run in sequence or in response to multiple triggers and condition changes.

Other Notable Features

Windows Vista is now “feature complete,” and the Enterprise CTP is the first feature-complete build being offered to participants in the CTP program, providing them with a more complete version of the product to test sooner in the development process than with any previous Windows releases. In addition to the deployment and management features highlighted, testers will discover new features designed to help make accessing information easier and faster. Some of the new enhanced features evident in this CTP include these:

Windows Sidebar and Gadgets. Windows Sidebar boosts personal productivity by providing instant and seamless access to Gadgets, a variety of engaging, easy-to-use and customizable mini-applications that provide information at a glance and enable easy access to frequent tasks. Windows Vista includes a built-in platform for hosting gadgets, which can be developed by ISVs, IT departments and hobbyists. In the enterprise, Gadgets can make employees more productive by offering quick information such as industry news, CRM data and sales figures, document workflow status, and IT infrastructure status and other information important to users. Gadgets provide lightweight and easy-to-use ways to present information from line-of-business applications and databases. With this CTP, a handful of Gadgets, including a Web feed (RSS) viewer, shortcuts, a recycle bin, photo slide show functionality, and a world clock, are provided for Windows Sidebar. With this build, developers should begin thinking about what Gadgets they can provide for their employees and customers.

Welcome Center. Welcome Center is a new start-up experience in Windows Vista that is designed to present important setup tasks (such as adding user accounts, transferring files and settings, and viewing basic tutorials), which the user can complete at a convenient time. The Welcome Center is designed to help users complete their important setup tasks and get to know their PC. It also enables access to OEM offerings that deliver value to the user as well as providing monetization options to OEMs. With the Welcome Center, OEMs have broad flexibility to make various offers to the end user during the startup process. Welcome Center will be accessible from All Programs and Control Panel under the Start Menu.

Although Windows Vista is feature complete, many of its features will continue to evolve throughout the development cycle, and the feedback received will continue to impact the overall feature set and experience. This CTP is intended for use by developers, enterprise IT professionals and the technical community that are part of the CTP program. End users interested in testing prerelease versions of Windows Vista should wait until the next CTP, which will be delivered in the second quarter of this year and will conclude the beta 2 process.

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