The Microsoft marketing hoopla set off by the Jan. 30 launch of Windows Vista will focus on the software's spiffy new look and enhancements such as greatly improved search abilities (see BusinessWeek.com, 1/15/07, "Vista: Upgrade—Or Trade Up?"). But the really important changes, mostly hidden, aim to improve Windows' leaky security. What you see of this may be annoying, but trust me, it's good for you.
One big reason Windows has been so vulnerable over the past 15 years is that Microsoft (MSFT) chose to make things easy when faced with a trade-off between security and convenience. But in recent years, as Windows users have grown increasingly outraged by nonstop hacker attacks, Microsoft's attitude has evolved. The company originally intended to base Vista on Windows XP but scrapped that idea a couple of years ago. Instead, it resolved to work off the much more secure foundation of Windows Server 2003. The Server version has generally won good marks for security.
All operating systems have security holes, and Vista will be no exception: One potential vulnerability has already been identified by security experts. The difference is that the holes in Vista should be much harder for the bad guys to exploit, compared with earlier versions of Windows.