A few months after its launch, how is Vista shaping up in the real world?

Microsoft launched Vista to the general public in January, following its business launch in December. The idea was that Microsoft was clamping down on security issues that have plagued successive incarnations of its operating system by introducing a slew of improvements.

These were generally heralded as a good thing by the security industry at large, with the usual minor disagreements as to their overall effectiveness, etc.

A few months down the line, and the cracks in the security facade are beginning to show. Aside from the voice recognition feature in Vista, which in theory could allow an attacker to play mp3 recordings of voice commands to a PC, thus gaining control of it, a few more flaws have crept out into the limelight.

According to anti-virus competitor Symantec, Vista's firewall can be compromised to perform prohibited functions. It claims that the user-activated 'unblock' button can be accessed by someone with the same privilege level as a standard user.

Reviewers have criticised the resource-hungry nature and high retail price of the OS, while experts point to the almost immediate release of patches as evidence that Vista is not yet fully developed.

However, in spite of these setbacks, sales of Vista have outstripped the first month's tally for Windows 2000, according to a report from NPD Group. "A lot of our clients that are using 2000 are thinking of jumping straight to Vista, missing out XP", said Stuart Okin, partner at Accenture.

And there's the rub - no matter how much Vista is slated by experts and competitors, its pre-installed on every new PC people buy on the high street, so sales and penetration will inevitably rise.

That said, the installed security market isn't shaping up too well for the Redmond giant. Windows Live OneCare has come under fire recently for deleting users' Outlook email files when an infection is detected, while an independent AV trial rated it last out of 17 anti-virus programs tested.