Before there was Windows Vista, we heard much buzzwords from Windows Longhorn topics and writeups. Rumors about a new Windows version that is killing the hacking spree focused on Windows.
As much as I hate hackers (because they do not use ethics–most of the time), I also don't like the overly defensive measures of Microsoft. I think that, the main reason I'd like to adhere to the thought of using unlicensed/pirated/cracked Windows versions is that I won't really use Windows as a platform for kicking off business platforms or models. Of course, I'm speaking for myself. I'd rather use cracked ones for simply browsing through the net and hunting freewares and free services that I can use.
When there came about topics and articles about Longhorn, it made me skeptical and curious. When in 2005, the change of Longhorn's name came about, I think it made a better feel or anticipation for the general IT audience. Longhorn itself has brought a negative impact on the majority of the IT people around the globe. One of the few items that has been remarkable enough to be remembered about the talks on Longhorn is about WinFS, and the other one was Palladium.
Just like I mentioned earlier, Microsoft is good (usually better) in user experience than the more efficient and productive Linux (as I think so). Ergo, it is but natural to expect an upgrade of user experience in Longhorn (or now Vista). They've added the "Aero" them which was based on a .NET-based graphics API called "Avalon". But the upgrade of view (Vista) is just the front end change/upgrade from Windows XP.
On a far more technical note, Longhorn (now Vista) runs on WinFS which is not really a new filesystem (not different from Windows XP's NTFS). They say its just an add on to that. This actually aims to make more optimal use for relational databases as a means of keeping the computing aspect of a PC life easier. Meaning, lay users won't have to worry too much about where they save files. The computer will take care of locating the files for use via powerful indexing and caching.
Palladium, on the other hand, is a better security measure. A defensive act from hackers. It is now called the Next Generation Secure Computing Base. It is a secure software architecture designed to protect the users from unauthorized spamming, file access/modifications, memory accesses, etc. At a glance, it seems the best defensive measure by a user from the outside world that is always posing threats to an internet connected machine. As quoted by Paul Thurrott:
Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB)–is basically a secure run-time environment for Windows and other operating systems that allows a coming generation of software applications and services to protect the end user from privacy invasion, outside hacking, spam, and other electronic attacks. Palladium requires special hardware security chips and microprocessors (which will be made by Intel and AMD) and doesn't interfere with the normal operation of the PC. That is, Palladium-based PCs will still operate normally, working with legacy operating systems and applications. But specially-made Palladium applications and services will offer a range of features of functionality not found in the non-Palladium world, and if the initiative is successful, we'll one day be running only Palladium-based software.
There will be two hardware components for this structure to work: the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and the curtained memory; plus two software components: Nexus (a security kernel), and the Nexus Computing Agents.
Each machine will carry a privately secure key in the TPM. Only trusted applications will be able to make use of this and all information will only be stored in the curtained memory. Other information outside this process will never be accessed by untrusted applications/processes. This is usually good for DRM (Digital Rights Management), Network security, Multiplayer games, and even for Peer to Peer connectivity.
It seems very inviting. But a closer look, would show you that this can mean an internal lock out. Even harder for developers to move around. According to Wikipedia:
NGSCB and Trusted Computing can be used to intentionally and arbitrarily lock certain users out from use of certain files, products and services, for example to lock out users of a competing product, potentially leading to severe vendor lock-in.
Vista and Me
I recently got this cheap notebook which was pre installed with Vista. I actually had this specific request for them not to put in Vista before delivery, but said that it was their standard procedure to do so, and that I can opt to build any OS that I wish to.
At first, I had this trouble of installing XP onto the laptop. It seems, the Vista hardware is no longer accepting installs of Home XP and those that are still running on SP1. It felt stupid and silly at the same time that I had to consult my problem with their Technical Department (though it took them so long to reply, I had my own case remedied by myself). This was very irritating for me.
Though I am skeptical and really annoyed by the stuffs I had to go through just to get a decent working Windows setup, I got to enjoy Vista temporarily. Of course, there are some of the beauty brought by Vista. I liked the new Aero theme which was easy to look at.. and true, it had this feel of "depth" in your computer. I also loved the way the web look and feel was into the Desktop PC. Every window had breadcrumbs, and the indexing was superb (only I wonder how it will be able to cope with huge files to index). However, because of the initial taste of Palladium, I still wanted to downgrade to the very stable and reliable Windows XP. I had a better sleep at night knowing my lappy and Desktop PC were both running on stable releases of XP and upgraded with SP2.
Of course, I missed the look and feel of Vista. I think its what is one of the good things I saw in it. Though I did not like the backend and the tech stuffs that power the new Windows OS, I still believe that had they not switched to "Windows Vista" name, its highlight of a new user experience would've failed.
I have always diverted to the MacOS X look for XP which is available here. I love its simplicity yet effectiveness. It encourages one to move around easily. I guess I've always been used to having my taskbar at the top (Linux flavors). The simple white elegance captured from Mac OS is great for the Windows XP environment. When I was able to try the Aero theme of Vista, I also researched for ways to apply some look and feel of Vista onto XP. With these, I found this http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/1089/makexplooklikevistalonghornfree.
I think they're nice, only be careful not to hog your memory with too much graphic-centered applications, altogether it wouldn't be nice.