Vista, Longhorn Server: Working better together

Compared to previous versions of Windows, Vista and Longhorn Server work better together

Longhorn Server and Vista are of the same ilk. Over 70 percent of the code in the two products is shared; in fact, Vista and Server were being developed together for much of the Vista development cycle.

Teams that work on one product work on the other. Vista security updates, if needed, are so simple that the development team can simply drop them into code so that Longhorn Server will immediately benefit and launch securely when it's released.

The two operating systems are, if ever there were such a thing, brother and sister. They were designed to work together. In fact, Windows Vista Service Pack 1 will ship at the same time that Longhorn Server -- whatever its name may be at that time -- is released to the general public, to make the tandem experience even better.

Among other methods, here are some of the most important ways in which Windows Vista and Longhorn Server work better, both together and as compared to previous versions of Windows:

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) is a much-needed improvement to the standard Remote Installation Services. WDS supports a disk image-based rollout of Windows, rather than flat file copying like RIS. The result is that deployments are completed faster, images are easy to edit (just mount them and add files as necessary), and hardware changes and support is easier, since the disk image WDS rolls out by default is generic enough to essentially run on any hardware.

No more bashing your head against the screen trying to integrate drivers into a RIS setup -- that painful experience doesn't exist anymore with WDS.

Network Access Protection (NAP) is of course integrated quite deeply into both products. NAP is the feature that allows you to quarantine machines, preventing their access to the network, if their current security settings don't measure up to a baseline that you, as the administrator, can define.

NAP was designed originally for Vista and Longhorn Server, and while an add-on is being developed for Windows XP, its functionality will be more limited, and the client won't be as manageable as the one built in to Vista.

Windows Vista and Longhorn Server will use a single model for updates. Both Vista and Longhorn Server updates will use the same "core," which makes applying updates a lot simpler and significantly more reliable. As it stands, differing cores on the client and server systems sometimes present troubles, but a patch on Vista will be of the same model as a patch for Server.

The two operating systems together offer centralized monitoring and reporting. Via an event-forwarding methodology, Windows Vista clients can be configured to send all, or some subset of, events occurring on the machine to a central log store on either another Vista machine or a Longhorn Server machine. This allows administrators to see a central view of events and helps them to see trends in problems or information across a variety of different systems.

Client-side caching is greatly improved. If you've been using the Offline Files and Folders feature of Windows 2000, XP and Server 2003, you know that the facility is convenient but not exactly seamless -- you generally have to initiate a synchronization yourself, sometimes writes and reads are slow and so on.

The caching technology in Vista, when paired with Longhorn Server, is improved such that all of these synchronization activities occur in the background. Delta-transmissions mean that only changed data is transmitted, even down to words in a file.

Directories that are available online, but not offline, are enumerated to the client even when offline -- they don't just disappear as they do in current versions of Windows. The client-side cache is encrypted to protect its contents, and the cache is scriptable via a set of APIs, documentation for which will be available by Longhorn Server release time.

Longhorn Server includes better Quality of Service (QoS) support. With QoS, you can ensure the right traffic is prioritized over less important or minimally relevant traffic. QoS is now supported in Group Policy, so you can roll out a consistent set of QoS prioritizations over the network using tools with which you're already familiar.

For search fanatics, indexing and search is much improved. New indexing technology allows for better and more transparency when searching for items either locally or items stored on a file share over the network

Users have a better experience working with Terminal Services on Vista clients. Terminal Services improvements include remote access to an internally-hosted application or resource through a web gateway, making it absolutely simple for users to get the right application every time without navigating in a TS session.

Also, you get seamless support for running Terminal Services-hosted applications without the TS client, so the application looks as if it's running entirely on the local machine. It's much less confusing for users, and the operating system interface gets out of the way and lets the user concentrate on his work.

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