Fundamentals of Windows Vista

Users today are more demanding of their applications' quality and usability. Microsoft investments in fundamental application support and development, as found in Windows Vista®, empower developers to meet these expectations. Windows Vista includes tools to provide users with enhanced application quality and reliability, a superior application security model, an improved installation experience, and modern application and system management.

Enhanced Application Reliability and Quality

Developers can improve their customers' experience through Windows Vista technologies and tools that guarantee a consistent interaction between the system and applications, provide greater usability, improve stability and fault tolerance, increase accessibility, and provide enhanced performance. For example:

  • Tools and clear guidelines are available to better enable developers to handle version and system compatibility issues.

  • Powerful enhancements to error handling, document recovery, and application restart mechanisms mean that application stability is enhanced and user data is better protected.

  • Application recovery support is available to installers and management tools. System modifications can be made without significantly disrupting a user's work or causing a loss of data.

  • Application stability is improved by eliminating application failures due to blocking I/O operations. Enhanced mechanisms are provided for I/O management.

  • State separation, a platform-agnostic method for specifying application information storage, allows users the freedom to configure their systems as they wish by enabling developers to remove hard-coded path dependencies.

  • Built-in accessibility features, and the streamlined, programmatic user interface access, promote efficient development of accessibility-enhanced applications.

  • New feedback-reporting APIs allow developers to specify data they need to continuously improve the quality of their products.

    Microsoft has also invested in the Windows Quality Online Services program. For more information about WinQual, visit the Windows Quality Online Services Web site ( This developer portal is a free service to registered ISVs. It enables developers to participate in aggregating user feedback, providing application developers with direct insight into those issues that cause the most significant problems for their users.

Superior Application Security Model

Windows Vista investments in an improved security model reduce a system's vulnerability to attack while still empowering applications.

  • User Account Control (UAC) enables applications to run with low privileges by default. The system then provides an easy to use mechanism for allowing authorized users elevated privileges when necessary to perform an administrative task. As a result, developers will find the vulnerability to attack of their applications reduced. This in turn makes it less likely that malicious code could use a weakness in any one application to compromise the whole system.

  • Security is further strengthened by adding a trust-based validation system through Mandatory Integrity Control (MIC), and the follow-up to Windows File Protection, Windows Resource Protection (WRP). MIC and WRP used together guarantee a stable, read-only view of a running operating system.

  • The integration of security applications with the Windows Security Center has been enhanced in Windows Vista. This allows vendors of anti-malware, antivirus, firewall, and similar products to develop more robust offerings.

  • Developers can create applications that help customers protect their servers, while allowing third-party software to function properly, by using the Security Configuration Wizard (SCW) extensions.

  • Windows Vista also provides advanced diagnostic support, making it easier for users to detect, diagnose and fix unforeseen failures with as few reproductions of the problem as possible.

Improved Installation Experience

Windows Vista allows developers to provide their customers with application installations that are easy to use, reduce system disruption, and are more secure.

  • Developers can use enhanced versions of both the traditional Microsoft Windows Installer (MSI) and the newer web-centric installer, ClickOnce.

  • By respecting the new security models, installations can be completely coordinated with the UAC technology, providing regulation of any elevated privilege.

  • Installation can be configured under UAC so that after initial installation at elevated privilege, subsequent patches signed with the same security certificate can be installed without requiring another elevation.

  • The need for system restarts is minimized through the Restart Manager, provided transparently by Microsoft installers.

Shell Extensions

Enhancements available under Windows Vista allow developers to extend the user's experience of the Windows shell.

  • New handlers for hardware, hardware events, and device synchronization can easily be created.

  • Share Manager enables users to exchange information across shares.

  • Link Tracking enables faster shortcut resolution.

  • Undo Manager enables developers to plug in to the Undo mechanism in the Windows Vista shell.

  • Control Panel Framework enables developers to register their Control Panel add-ins.

  • Other extensible shell functions enhance the organization and appearance of the application's data. For more information, see Search and Organize.

Modern Application and System Management

Both IT professionals and users will find that Windows Vista is easier and less costly to manage. For example:

  • The Windows namespace, the system's environment of standard file locations, has been reorganized to support a more natural usage model and to maintain state separation.

  • Standard system management tools, such as Control Panel, Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and event loggers, have cleaner interfaces and are more tightly bound to system internals.

  • Developers can make use of these powerful interfaces to supply users with greater application and new feature control, through Control Panel and MMC extensibility.

  • Users can feel more secure with the full support provided by Windows Vista for privacy, digital rights, and usage role management.

  • The Windows Vista versions of Microsoft Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) and Event Log technologies provide a high-performance, low-overhead, and highly scalable event tracing and logging.

  • Better real time diagnostic and application self-healing is available through the Windows Diagnostic Infrastructure (WDI).

  • A new version of the Microsoft performance counter libraries provides a lighter weight, more scalable instrumentation of applications.

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