Group Policy for USB Removable Devices
A big worry for IT Managers is the removal of intellectual property (company documents, trade secrets etc) by using USB flash pens – which are extremely common nowadays. In Vista, we provide group policy settings so the IT can stop foreign USB devices from being installed which means they cannot be used to steal intellectual property. The policies allow admins to specify exactly which devices can be used based on their unique ID.
Business Desktop Deployment
This screencast shows off BDD Workbench; the central place from which to manage all your deployments. It’s very easy to use and once you understand all ways in which it works you can very quickly setup a suite of images ready to deploy to different parts of your organisation depending on the role of the user and their requirements.
Patient Monitoring Application
Here’s a cool application that has been built to show off the power of the new Vista graphics engine. It’s an application that a doctor might use around the hospital to monitor the status of his or her patients and is graphically rich thanks to the Windows Presentation Framework – something that will become increasingly familiar to developers as their customers demand a richer experience from their applications. The application also highlights XPS an open standard document format which allows the easy transfer and rendering of very lightweight documents.
Vista takes advantage of many hardware advances that are coming out now and in the future. ReadyDrive is a feature that uses a new kind of “hybrid” hard disk that combines solid state flash memory with a conventional magnetic disk. This means that frequently used data can be placed on the flash part of the drive thus dramatically speeding up read and write operations to disk. Not only does this increase performance dramatically, but it also saves loads of battery power in laptops because the disk can spend more time “spun-down” i.e. the disk is not spinning.
This feature let’s the user help themselves instead of placing costly support calls to IT helpdesks. It works by guiding the user around the screen showing them exactly how to complete whatever task they want. What’s also great is the ability to author your own Guided Help “Topics” so you target the most commonly asked questions from users. Also, software developers can use guided help to document their own software in a much more rich way than before.
Windows Meeting Space
Meeting Space is one of those amazing features in Vista that doesn’t get the amount of coverage it deserves. It’s a tool that allows rapid, adhoc collaboration for meetings. Think of a scenario where you’ve been in a meeting and wanted to share documents and show presentations on your laptop screen. In the past you could copy all the items to a USB pen and pass it around all the participants – which is a time consuming task. Now, with Meeting Space, you can do all this very easily even without the presence of a wireless access point – so you can meet and collaborate anywhere!
A great tool that helps technicians troubleshoot problems with a user’s PC, the reliability monitor allows visibility into the stability of a PC running Vista. As you would expect, problems are tracked along a time axis and warning and information icons indicate an event that might be of interest to the troubleshooter, like device driver installation or software installs/uninstalls. This helps so events leading up to a system failure or crash can be seen and the problem identified. Systems also get a stability index (marked out of 10) which shows how stable a system is.
Another new addition to the Tablet PC feature-set, pen flicks allows a user to be much more productive with just a stylus. By using “gestures” (fast movements in certain directions) with the stylus Vista will carry out tasks that the user has configured. Things like Copy and Paste can be triggered with a quick gesture diagonally up and right. This is great for navigating web pages because you can go back and forward in IE by using a left or right pen flick and scroll up and down by using an vertical gesture. Check out the screencast to see it in action.
The handwriting recognition in Vista has been greatly improved over that in XP. My handwriting is by no means neat yet Vista recognises all of it straight after installation – so it’s had no time to learn my style. What’s also great is the Tablet Input Panel which is the tool that captures handwriting. It’s clever so figures out when I might want to enter text and then provides me with a little icon nearby so I can enter handwriting very quickly. Unlike XP, it hides itself away until required which means it doesn’t take up any screen space.