Security trumps apps in Vista design

Realizing security likely means more to the government technology community than any other new feature found in Microsoft Vista, a top Microsoft Corp. executive stressed the new product safeguards at a splashy launch today.

Bill Veghte, corporate vice president for Microsoft North America, noted that every time employees of the Redmond, Wash., software giant had to choose between security and Vista's ability to interoperate with other applications, security won.

Several agencies within the Defense Department and the intelligence agencies have plans to upgrade to Vista, mainly for the security features, Microsoft officials said. Veghte noted the highly publicized cases of laptops with sensitive data being lost or stolen. Tools found in Vista could make that kind of data safer, he said.

The BitLocker Drive Encryption feature, for example, adds machine-level data protection. BitLocker furnishes encryption of system files and the hibernation file, which helps protect data from being compromised on a lost or stolen machine.

Vista is another step in Microsoft's push to integrate its products, according to Veghte.

"Sixteen-and-a-half years ago we were contemplating whether we do an Office release," he said "Whether Excel and Word were better together or in separate applications. In those days, we were really excited . . . about cut, copy and paste, and Wysiwyg."

With Vista, the emphasis is not necessarily on the individual application, but on how they work together, he said.

While Vista won't look foreign to Windows XP users, officials insisted Vista is not simply an update. C.J. Bruno from Microsoft's partner, Intel Corp., agreed that Vista is something different.

"This is not just another turn of the crank," said Bruno, Intel's director of marketing.

Among Vista's features is a pervasive search bar that appears with all applications and can be used to find documents and files.

Veghte also showed off Vista's new interface called the Ribbon, which is designed to make it easier to little-known commands in applications such as Office.

"The basic premise behind the Ribbon is that those core tasks are right here, whether it be inserting things, laying out pages or getting references," Veghte said.

Ribbon presents commands organized into a set of tabs. The tabs display the commands relevant to the task a user is working on in an application. In Word, for example, the tabs group commands for tasks such as inserting pictures and tables, doing page layout, working with references or doing mailings.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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