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Windows Vista Management Features

Windows Vista offers many new and improved management and troubleshooting features designed to minimize IT departments' support and maintenance costs. This document describes the most important manageability improvements and their benefits.

On This Page

Overview
Reducing Desktop Support Costs
Simplifying Desktop Configuration Management
Increasing Automation
Reducing Update Management Costs

Overview

Windows Vista represents a significant step in Microsoft's commitment to reducing Windows computers' total cost of ownership (TCO). Windows Vista is designed to reduce the cost of desktop support, to simplify desktop configuration management, to enable better centralized management of the desktop, and to decrease the cost of keeping systems updated.

Windows Vista helps lower desktop support costs through several key innovations. Administrators can automate many common management tasks, reducing maintenance requirements. Windows Vista also helps reduce time required to resolve support issues, improving user productivity.

Windows Vista gives administrators more control over their environments and provides tools to simplify common administrative tasks. First, Windows Vista offers a greater number of configuration settings, and more of these settings are centrally configurable using Microsoft Active Directory Group Policy settings. The new Event Logging Infrastructure and other instrumentation in Windows Vista are enhanced to provide greater visibility and control over the desktop environment. Windows Vista also includes newly redesigned tools, such as the Task Scheduler, Event Viewer and Performance Monitor. Even the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) has been enhanced to make management applications more flexible and easier to use. These improvements make it easier for IT professionals to achieve and maintain a standardized client platform.

Windows Vista makes substantial improvements in update management. In Windows Vista, update management will be less disruptive to end users.

Reducing Desktop Support Costs

Reducing the cost of servicing the desktop is a Windows Vista guiding principle. Many Windows Vista features support this goal, either directly or indirectly.

The first step in reducing support costs is to reduce the number of support incidents. Windows Vista includes built-in diagnostics that can automatically detect and diagnose common support problems and then help users resolve the problems themselves. Problems that Windows Vista diagnostics address include failing disks, degraded performance, lack of network connectivity, and failure to shut down properly.

IT departments can add custom content to User Assistance—Windows Vista's version of help files—to provide answers to questions about custom applications and internal network resources. User Assistance can also be customized to link users directly to an internal support center.

Remote Assistance, originally included with Microsoft Windows XP, enables support center personnel to resolve problems more quickly by viewing and controlling a remote computer's desktop across the network. Windows Vista offers several significant improvements to make Remote Assistance even more efficient. Windows Vista Remote Assistance is faster, uses less bandwidth, and can function through Network Address Translation (NAT) firewalls.

Performance problems are some of the most complex and time-consuming challenges to troubleshoot. To reduce the time spent on these types of issues, Windows Vista provides new performance counters and an improved Performance console that offers more detailed information. These tools give support personnel detailed insight into Windows Vista's inner workings, information they can use to isolate the type of complex, persistent problems that might otherwise remain unresolved for months or years.

Improvements to the Windows event logging infrastructure make the Windows Vista desktop easier to manage and monitor and provide better information for troubleshooting. Strict standards ensure that events are meaningful, actionable, and well-documented. Many components that stored logging information in text files in previous versions of Windows now add events to the event log. With event forwarding, administrators can centrally manage events from computers anywhere on the network, making it easier to proactively identify problems and to correlate problems that affect multiple computers. Finally, the Event Viewer has been completely rewritten to allow users to create custom views, to easily associate events with tasks, and to remotely view logs from other computers. This input makes it much more practical for administrators to use the event log to troubleshoot users' problems.

Overview

Windows Vista represents a significant step in Microsoft's commitment to reducing Windows computers' total cost of ownership (TCO). Windows Vista is designed to reduce the cost of desktop support, to simplify desktop configuration management, to enable better centralized management of the desktop, and to decrease the cost of keeping systems updated.

Windows Vista helps lower desktop support costs through several key innovations. Administrators can automate many common management tasks, reducing maintenance requirements. Windows Vista also helps reduce time required to resolve support issues, improving user productivity.

Windows Vista gives administrators more control over their environments and provides tools to simplify common administrative tasks. First, Windows Vista offers a greater number of configuration settings, and more of these settings are centrally configurable using Microsoft Active Directory Group Policy settings. The new Event Logging Infrastructure and other instrumentation in Windows Vista are enhanced to provide greater visibility and control over the desktop environment. Windows Vista also includes newly redesigned tools, such as the Task Scheduler, Event Viewer and Performance Monitor. Even the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) has been enhanced to make management applications more flexible and easier to use. These improvements make it easier for IT professionals to achieve and maintain a standardized client platform.

Windows Vista makes substantial improvements in update management. In Windows Vista, update management will be less disruptive to end users.

Increasing Automation

Windows Vista greatly increases the administrator's ability to automate tasks, reducing the time needed to manage the desktop and decreasing the likelihood of manual errors.

Task Scheduler is much more powerful in Windows Vista than in earlier versions of Windows. Task Scheduler can still be used to launch tasks at specific times or when the computer starts up, and it is entirely backward-compatible with Windows XP. However, with the new Windows Vista Task Scheduler, IT professionals can also schedule tasks to launch when:

  • A specific event occurs, such as insufficient disk space. Administrators can use Task Scheduler to notify the support center of problems or even automatically resolve common issues.
  • A user locks or unlocks their workstation. Administrators can use Task Scheduler to launch a script or application whenever a user returns to their desk.
  • The computer is idle. Administrators can use this feature to run maintenance tasks such as defragmenting the disk or backing up the computer when it is not in use.

Additionally, tasks can be run in sequence, enabling administrators to schedule multiple tasks with the confidence that the tasks will not run simultaneously. To improve security and reduce maintenance related to password expirations, credentials for the accounts used to run a task can be stored in the Active Directory domain, rather than on the local computer where they are more vulnerable to attack.

Windows Remote Management (WinRM) also makes Windows Vista easier to manage remotely. WinRM is Microsoft’s implementation of the WS-Management standard, an industry-standard Web services protocol for protected remote management of hardware and software components, WinRM—along with the proper software tools—allows administrators to remotely run scripts and perform other management tasks. Communications can be both encrypted and authenticated, limiting security risks.

Microsoft Management Console (MMC) is a framework for administrative tools that is used by Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. Windows Vista includes several improvements to MMC that make administrative tools easier to use. First, Windows Vista allows administrators to run multiple tasks in parallel, keeping administrative tools responsive even after launching a complex or slow management task. Instead of requiring administrators to right-click objects, a separate action pane shows them exactly what they can do with any particular object. MMC makes life easier for developers, too, meaning that more non-Microsoft applications are likely to utilize the MMC framework.

Reducing Update Management Costs

Although it is important to keep current with the latest software updates, update management can be costly, time-consuming, and disruptive to IT Professionals and end users. Windows Vista includes platform technology that can be used to prevent reboots or reduce the impact of reboots, in cases where they cannot be avoided. This new technology is used by the Windows Installer, so adding or removing applications with the Windows Add/Remove programs feature will be less likely to require a reboot.

While new applications are installed, applications currently in use may be automatically restarted. To reduce the disruption caused by the installation, some applications, including key Microsoft Office 2007 applications and Internet Explorer, can automatically restore their state after installation. And in cases where reboots cannot be avoided, the same technology may be used to restore the application’s state after the reboot.

Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), a new version of Software Update Services (SUS), also helps improve update management. Administrators can use WSUS to more easily review the new updates that are available and assess whether these updates are needed in their environments. For environments that use Automatic Updates, administrators can use WSUS to deploy all updates. In previous versions of Windows, only critical updates could be deployed using the Automatic Updates feature.

The Windows Update Agent (WUA) is now a stand-alone application that can download updates either directly from Microsoft or from an internal WSUS server. Because the WUA provides a single interface to updates downloaded either from Microsoft or from an internal enterprise server, users do not have to learn how to use two separate tools.

Note Features discussed on this site are subject to change. Some features may not be included in the final product due to marketing, technical, or other reasons.

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