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By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-10-05 Print this article Print

Many enterprises will not be allowed to use the new tools until they are available for existing production servers like Windows Server 2003, which isn't expected until some six months after Vista is released.

Most corporations appear to be preparing for a 2008 rollout of Vista, and by then all tools should be fully tested and running on the appropriate platforms. As such, Enderle does not expect the delay in releasing the tool for existing production servers to have much impact on 2008 deployment plans.

Research firm IDC predicts that Vista will be installed on more than 100 million computers worldwide in its first year. Click here to read more.

"We think the impact of this on existing 2008 plans will be negligible, and early adopters, by nature, are more willing to take higher risks for the benefits of a new platform, and this shouldn't change that either," he said.

As such, Enderle said demand from small and medium-size businesses and consumers in 2007 will likely give the first indication of whether Vista "is hot or not." But, that being said, he still expects the big Vista and Longhorn Server deployment wave to come in 2008 and 2009.

A Vista tester who asked not to be named, told eWEEK that the delay in the tools is probably a good thing as it will give Microsoft time to work on the first service pack.

"Perhaps the delay is by design to give them time to get the code up to scratch and fix all the early issues that will undoubtedly show up once Vista starts being deployed," he said.

But both Enderle and Roger Kay, president of research group Endpoint Technologies Associates, expect these technologies to help corporations.

Microsoft's WGA anti-piracy program attracts a copycat worm and a second lawsuit. Click here to read more.

Kay told eWEEK that while most enterprises probably do not yet understand the new activation process, once they do, they should find it quite useful for managing their fleets.

He also believes that these new technologies will ease the burden on IT administrators by allowing them to either administer the activation/validation themselves or have Microsoft do it.

"It will help them to know that every client that validates properly has a kernel with integrity. It represents a first-level health check," he said. "Also, they don't need to worry about rogue machines from ex-employees wandering around because they'll go dead after six months."

According to Enderle, proxy activation could actually result in some benefits, but the fact that the service currently does not run on a shipping server means that full testing will be off into the future, when it is expected to cover most hardware except that which is virtually always remote.

"The added benefits would be in asset tracking, which is an ongoing nightmare of a problem for enterprise and business, and this could provide a better fix than what many have," he said.

Vista is closer to the Unix/Linux security model in how it is being implemented, and that is probably where the vast majority of the security benefit will come.

Analyst firm Gartner says Vista will run on just about any PC available today, but it will only show its true colors on about half of them. Click here to read more.

"Still, not having to plaster the keys onto hardware will result not only in more attractive hardware, but it will lower the incidence of the problems related to stolen keys. So it should be more secure once the proxy is running on a secure server," he said.

But Enderle does caution that new problems will probably come from the proxy itself, and with mobile users where validation does not take place in a timely manner. It may also take awhile for this to become integrated with existing asset tracking tools, he said, while a redundant process can sometimes create problems for the primary process already in place.

"That is why it is important that we see some large, non-Microsoft production implementations before we recommend this. But, once fully tested and assuming it passes a high-volume test, I would recommend the use of this tool," he said. "I would also recommend it be integrated with whatever asset tracking solution was currently in place to more effectively track hardware."

Too much hardware is lost, and under current reporting rules that may actually be the bigger problem this helps solve. "But this recommendation will likely have to wait until after the proxy will run on a production server, which won't be until after mid-year 2007," Enderle said.

Check out eWEEK.com's for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.

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