Analysis: Mark Mayne

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 itsbusiness launch in December. The idea was that Microsoft was clampingdown on security issues that have plagued successive incarnations of itsoperating system by introducing a slew of improvements.

These were generally heralded as a good thing by the security industryat large, with the usual minor disagreements as to their overalleffectiveness, etc.

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

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

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

However, in spite of these setbacks, sales of Vista have outstripped thefirst month's tally for Windows 2000, according to a report from NPDGroup. "A lot of our clients that are using 2000 are thinking of jumpingstraight to Vista, missing out XP", said Stuart Okin, partner atAccenture.

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

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

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