Features Windows XP Windows Vista Windows 7 beta Key differences
Group Policy settings
Group Policy helps information technology (IT) professionals manage client computer configurations by allowing them to enforce thousands of Windows and application security and configuration settings. Examples include standard configuration enforcement, security settings and controls (ranging from public key policies to password policies), resource access, wireless networking, software installation, and user experience.
Managing client computer configurations with Windows Vista takes less time and is more effective, because hundreds more settings are available in Group Policy that target more scenarios. Areas with richer settings include wireless networking, removable storage device installation and usage, Windows Internet Explorer® 7, printers, and power management.
Group Policy provides an infrastructure for centralized configuration management of the operating system and applications that run on the operating system. 

Group Policy is available in all editions of  Windows 7. Both local and domain-based Group Policy can be managed by using any version of  Windows 7 that supports RSAT.

• Windows Vista has more than 500 additional Group. Policy settings than Windows XP.

• In Windows Vista, Group Policy settings are better targeted at specific scenarios, such as wireless networking, power management, and printer management.

• Windows 7 has an improved user interface for group policy maintainance and additional policy settings as well as ability to manage Group Policy from the Windows PowerShell™ command line and to run PowerShell scripts during logon and startup

Standard user accounts
Deploying standard user accounts was traditionally not practical, partly because users can’t change many common settings and partly because many applications require administrator access to portions of the registry or file system (for example, C:Program Files). As a result, many companies deploy administrator accounts to users, reducing manageability and increasing security risk. Some companies overcome these challenges by deploying standard user accounts, and then punching specific holes in access control lists (ACLs) at a significant cost. 
Windows Vista User Account Control (UAC) makes it more practical for companies to allow users to run with standard user accounts, run their applications, and perform the many common system configuration tasks such as changing the time zone or installing a supported printer. Limiting the use of administrator accounts to true administrators helps prevent users from making unauthorized system changes or installing unapproved programs that may contain a virus or spyware.

In addition, file and registry redirection (virtualization) enables older applications to run in a standard user environment by redirecting the writes to a virtual store, helping applications run as expected without modification. This capability provides application compatibility for older applications.

In Windows 7, Microsoft has given options for the users to select their 'comfort level' in UAC notifications and also improved the user interface by providing more relevant and additional information. The default user account created during the installation in Windows 7 is still a protected administrator but with a different UAC setting: 

The UAC icon has gone for a change and it looks much better now than in Vista:

• Windows Vista makes using standard user or Least privilege user accounts more practical than in the past.

• UAC notifies standard users and administrators before an administrative action is performed.

• File and registry redirection helps ensure that applications write to user-specific file locations.

• the UAC experience is much improved in Windows 7 than in Windows Vista. The number of clicks (by default) is drastically reduced in Windows 7 when compared to Windows Vista. The ultimate goal of the UAC is to provide user the control over what changes can happen to the system and not to annoy users with more number of prompts.

Troubleshooting and diagnostics
Windows XP includes basic troubleshooting tools. However, a limited number of these tools automatically detect and repair common support problems.
Windows Vista includes built in diagnostics that automatically detect and diagnose common support problems and help users resolve the problems on their own. Problems that Windows Vista diagnostics address include failing disks, degraded performance, lack of network connectivity, and failure to start up properly.
The Windows 7 Troubleshooting Platform consists of 20 built-in Windows Troubleshooting Packs and the Troubleshooting Pack Builder. Microsoft’s white paper states that, “Troubleshooting Packs are a collection of PowerShell scripts that attempt to diagnose a problem and, if possible, solve the problem with the user’s approval.”
• Windows Vista automatically detects and repairs more support problems, helping reduce support costs.

• Windows 7 automatically diagnose and fix problems not limited only to the select few manufacturers but also any third party that wishes to develop the script to correct the specified problem as well.

Event Management 
Windows XP provides basic event management through Event Viewer. Using Event Viewer, users can view, filter, and archive events. Event logging in Windows XP remains largely unchanged from earlier Windows versions, and many Windows components still store event information in scattered text files.
Event Viewer has been completely rewritten to allow IT pros to create custom views that combine events from individual logs, discover events more easily, and link to scheduled tasks or scripts that should run when an event occurs. This new Windows Eventing system makes it much more practical for IT pros to use the event log to troubleshoot users’ problems.

Windows Eventing also provides a central unified event store that developers can easily use for their applications, continuing to make troubleshooting easier for IT pros.

With event forwarding, IT pros can centrally manage events from their computers, making it easier to proactively identify problems and to correlate problems that affect multiple computers.

You can use the Windows 7 Event Viewer to view system events that have occurred on your computer apart from all the advanced functionalities transferred directly from Windows Vista to Windows 7.
• Windows Vista introduces event forwarding, a new Event Viewer, and event automation.

• Windows 7 consolidates events from most Windows components in the event log instead of in text files.

Task scheduling
The Task Scheduler in Windows XP provides essential scheduling capabilities. Users can schedule jobs to run daily, weekly, and so on. IT pros cannot easily create and manage tasks by using scripts, however. Instead, they must use a command-line program to manage tasks.
The Windows Vista Task Scheduler is backward-compatible with Windows XP. IT pros can also schedule tasks to launch in situations, including:

•When a specific event occurs.

•When users lock or unlock sessions.

•When the computer is idle.

•When the computer is on the corporate network.

In addition, tasks can be run in sequence, enabling IT pros to schedule multiple tasks with the confidence that the tasks will not run simultaneously. To improve security and reduce maintenance related to password expirations, IT pros can use domain credentials to run a task instead of a local account that needs to be managed.

In Windows 7, you can use the task scheduler to create and manage common tasks that your computer will automatically carry out at times that you specify

Security in the new Task Scheduler has also been greatly improved.

• Windows Vista enables IT pros to script tasks. 

• Windows 7 provides new scheduling options and the ability to run tasks in sequence.

Features Windows XP Windows Vista Windows 7 beta Key differences
Image-based setup (IBS) 
Windows XP is not delivered as an image. Instead, the Setup program installs and configures each Windows component.

Non-Microsoft imaging tools are available for creating images, but they are predominantly sector-based products. Tools included in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) and Microsoft® Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2008 do support creating file-based Windows XP images, but these images are not componentized in a way that allows IT pros to inject drivers, updates, and other packages offline. This usually means that Windows XP images require frequent updates.

Windows Vista is distributed using the new file-based image format, Windows Imaging Format (WIM). This file format supports multiple images in a single file, allowing Microsoft to ship a single worldwide binary to customers around the world (one for 32-bit and one for 64-bit architectures).

A key benefit of WIM with Windows Vista is that it enables IT pros to service images offline, including adding and deleting optional components (device drivers, updates, and so on) without having to continually recapture or create a new image. This dramatically improves image maintenance and reduces costs.

In Windows 7 the license key has been moved to the Windows Welcome page, so the user can enter it after the install. This makes it easier for people to evaluate and get started with Windows. Also provided is a better experience when upgrading editions (i.e., from Home Premium to Ultimate) by enabling specific, licensed components, not reimaging the system.
• Windows Vista is distributed as a WIM image file and installed by using IBS, resulting in a quicker and more streamlined installation process.

• Windows XP is not distributed as a WIM image, nor does it use IBS; however, Microsoft tools support creating WIM images of Windows XP but without the offline servicing benefits of Windows Vista images.

Installation tools 
The Windows XP Corporate Deployment Tools ( ship on the Windows XP media and are available from the Microsoft Download Center. These tools include Setup Manager, the System Preparation Tool (Sysprep), and the Microsoft Windows Corporate Deployment Tools User’s Guide. Also, MDT 2008 and the Microsoft System Center products support imaging and deployment of Windows XP.
Windows Vista provides a new set of deployment tools. Some of these tools, such as Sysprep, now ship as core parts of the operating system. The remaining tools are in the Windows AIK and include Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM) and ImageX. These tools are optimized to enable business customers to reduce the number of images they maintain and make servicing those images easier. And MDT 2008—the next version of Microsoft Business Desktop Deployment (BDD)—takes full advantage of Windows Vista’s deployment improvements while integrating and extending the capabilities of the Windows AIK tools.
Deployment changes in Windows 7 fall primarily into three buckets: Windows set-up; servicing infrastructure and tools that are part of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (for corporate users) or OEM Preinstallation Kit for resellers); and network-based deployment. 
• Windows Vista and Windows 7 imaging and installation tools support IBS and are far more advanced than Windows XP deployment tools, supporting more deployment scenarios with less cost.
Windows Setup 
In Windows XP, Windows Setup installs and configures components on the destination computer. The process does not use IBS and does not support all the scenarios that organizations use to deploy the Windows operating system, such as scenarios that require non-destructive installation (Computer Refresh or In-place Wipe and Load scenarios, in which user files and settings remain local on the computer).

Windows XP uses multiple answer files for various installation phases, each with different formats and syntax. For example, it uses Unattend.txt for installation from the distribution media, Sysprep.inf for image installation, and so on. Using multiple answer files that contain similar settings leads to more difficult maintenance.

Setup Manager, the tool that creates and edits Unattend.txt files, does not support all the settings available and does not validate the contents of those files. Other than editing Unattend.txt, Setup Manager provides only basic capabilities to create and manage distribution shares.

Windows Vista uses IBS, providing a more consistent and streamlined installation. It supports all the deployment scenarios that most companies use when deploying the Windows operating system, including those that require non-destructive installation. Windows Vista installation can be faster than Windows XP installation, because it uses IBS.

Windows Setup uses an XML-based answer file (Unattend.xml) for all configuration passes. This drives consistency across all configuration passes. Also, Windows Vista supports more settings in Unattend.xml than Windows XP supported in Unattend.txt, making it easier to deploy the right configuration with nothing more than a properly configured answer file.

Windows SIM is the tool that creates and edits Unattend.xml files and distribution shares in a simple graphical user interface (GUI). Windows SIM supports all the settings that each Windows component exposes during deployment, and it helps create and manage distribution shares.

Microsoft wants Windows 7 to be usable and exciting

"out of the box," and it's improving the experiencing of running this new OS for the first time. This includes an even more streamlined Setup routine and a thoroughly overhauled user interface.

• Windows Vista uses IBS and supports more deployment scenarios than Windows XP.

• Windows 7 uses a single XML-based answer file, providing a more consistent installation, while Windows XP uses multiple text-based answer files.

• Windows SIM supports all the settings that Windows Vista exposes for deployment for all configuration passes, while Setup Manager only supports a subset of Windows XP settings.

Worldwide single-image deployment 
Windows XP provided nominal help for reducing the number of images that organizations maintain. For example, Sysprep prepares images to support computers with a variety of mass-storage devices. However, organizations must prepare one image for each type of hardware abstraction layer (HAL) found in the production environment. Additionally, organizations must prepare an individual image for each language.

MDT 2008 helps organizations get closer to thin-image strategies using Windows XP. Guidance and tools are provided to reduce image count, but the limitations of HAL- and language-dependence remain.

Windows Vista includes advanced features and capabilities that help organizations reduce the number of images they maintain. First, Windows Vista is hardware agnostic. Therefore, organizations don’t have to create images for each type of HAL found in the production environment. Second, Windows Vista Enterprise and Windows Vista Ultimate enable organizations to deploy a single image that contains multiple Microsoft user interface (UI) languages, enabling worldwide deployment to all client computers using a single image.

MDT 2008 enables organizations to use thin-imaging and deploy-time customization techniques to deploy and customize a single worldwide image. For example, during deployment, organizations can target virtual private network (VPN) software to portable computers and accounting software to the Accounting department.

ImageX in Windows 7 now allows multiple images to be modified simultaneously and supports interim saves, the extensible infrastructure (WIMGAPI) and supporting mount capabilities are now included in every edition, Diskpart can be used to mount a VHD offline and service that VHD using the servicing tools, DISM is now the only offline management tool and has more features, PEImg functionality has been incorporated into DISM, the PE feature package now starts with a base image, the Windows Recovery Environment is now installed by default, and USMT has new features that improve its flexibility and performance.
• Windows Vista enables organizations to create and deploy a single worldwide image, while Windows XP often requires numerous images for a worldwide deployment.

• MDT 2008 enables companies to use thin-imaging techniques to reduce both Windows XP and Windows Vista image counts.

Features Windows XP Windows Vista Windows 7 beta Key differences

Development Lifecycle (SDL)

Developed for Windows XP with SP2 (Later, SDL was used throughout Windows Vista development.)
Windows Vista is the first Windows client operating system to be developed end to end using Microsoft’s SDL, which makes security a top priority throughout the development cycle by mandating a repeatable engineering process that every developer must follow, and then verifying that process before product release.

The SDL is an evolving process that implements rigorous standards of secure design, coding, testing, review, and response for all Microsoft products. The SDL helps remove vulnerabilities and minimize the surface area for attacks, improves system and application integrity, and helps organizations more securely manage and isolate their networks.

The Microsoft SDL Optimization Model is a strategic framework which facilitates consistent and cost-effective implementation of the SDL in development organizations outside of Microsoft. 

Windows 7 borrows it,s security features from Windows Vista architecture, and further enhances it to provide enhanced security to the end user.

• Windows Vista and Windows 7 is a more secure operating system than Windows XP using defense-in-depth approaches.
Windows Bit Locker™ Drive Encryption 
Windows Bit Locker Drive Encryption is a new data-protection feature in Windows Vista Enterprise and Windows Vista Ultimate that addresses the very real threats of data theft and data disclosure from lost, stolen, or inappropriately decommissioned computer hardware. This tightly integrated drive encryption solution also provides for integrity checking of early boot components. Because businesses use more portable computers each year, the potential exposure of data on users’ computers presents a growing problem for organizations. Windows Bit Locker Drive Encryption allows organizations to realize the benefits of mobile computing while helping to reduce risk and enable better compliance with corporate data-protection best practices.
Bitlocker was hyped a lot in Windows Vista and it appears here as well. It was meant to prevent unauthorized access to your hard drives by "locking" the information from unauthorized eyes.. It's back in Windows 7. 

BitLocker Drive Encryption in Windows 7 provides secure startup for the operating system, as well as full volume encryption for OS, fixed or removable volumes. This service allows BitLocker to prompt users for various actions related to their volumes when mounted, and unlocks volumes automatically without user interaction. Additionally, it stores recovery information to Active Directory, if available, and, if necessary, ensures the most recent recovery certificates are used. Stopping or disabling the service would prevent users from leveraging this functionality.

• Windows Vista helps secure data on portable computers by providing whole-volume encryption and protection of early boot components, whereas Windows 7 provides far more secure startup for the system then Vista as well as full volume encryption for the OS.
Windows Firewall 
Windows XP provides firewall functionality that is enabled by default and begins protecting users’ computers as soon as the operating system starts. In Windows XP, Windows Firewall includes inbound filtering.
Windows Vista provides firewall functionality that is enabled by default and begins helping protect a user’s computer as soon as Windows starts. Windows Firewall includes both inbound and outbound filtering and can prevent data from entering or leaving the computer. It also allows IT pros and home users to block applications, such as peer-to- peer sharing or instant messaging applications, from contacting or responding to other computers.

Windows Firewall in Windows Vista is also fully manageable through Group Policy and is dynamic based on network type. Administrators can have different firewall rules in effect depending on whether the computer is connected to a corporate (domain) network, a private (home) network, or a public (hotspot) network.

The firewall exists to protect the network, and Windows 7 starts by making it easier to configure that all-important home network. When users hit network problems, they curse the firewall—and they're often right too. Windows 7 addresses the problem by taking over home network setup and making sure the firewall doesn't interfere. 

Windows 7’s multiple active firewall profiles are the solution to many problems. It is now possible to assign each firewall profile to specific NICs. User can configure this feature in the Windows Firewall properties . This allows the user to work with a different firewall profile for each network interface. If the computer is connected to multiple networks at a time, Windows Firewall will use the different rule sets for each NIC.

• Both operating systems include firewall functionality, but Windows Vista includes inbound and outbound filtering, whereas Windows XP only includes inbound filtering.

• Windows Firewall in Windows 7 can dynamically apply rules based on the current network type, making the computer more secure on public networks.

Windows Defender
Windows Defender helps protect against and remove a wide range of malicious software, including spyware, adware, root kits, bots, keystroke loggers, and control utilities. (Windows Defender does not provide protection against malicious software classified as a worm or virus.) Windows Defender is an optional download for Windows XP.
Windows Defender helps protect against and remove a wide range of malicious software, including spyware, adware, root kits, bots, keystroke loggers, and control utilities. (Windows Defender does not provide protection against malicious software classified as a worm or virus.) Windows Defender is enabled by default in Windows Vista.
Further improved Windows Defender experience can be wittnesed within Windows 7. 

New features include,

  • Integration with the new Action Center
  • New user interface
  • Better continuous monitoring.
• In Windows Vista and Windows 7, Windows Defender is enabled by default; however, Windows Defender is an optional download for Windows XP.
Internet Explorer 7 Protected Mode 
Internet Explorer 7 Protected Mode in Windows Vista provides additional defenses against malicious attackers who attempt to take over a user’s Web browser and run malicious code by using elevated rights. In Protected Mode, Internet Explorer 7 runs with reduced rights to help prevent user or system files and settings from being changed without the user’s explicit permission. The new Web browser architecture also introduces a broker process that helps existing applications elevate themselves above Protected Mode more securely if they need to. This additional defense helps verify that scripted actions or automatic processes are prevented from downloading data outside the low-rights directories, such as the Temporary Internet Files folder.
Internet explorer 8 is bundled with Windows 7 and is far more secure the IE 7. 

Browsing becomes more secure knowing Internet Explorer 8 helps protect the user from evolving online threats right out of the box. The new SmartScreen filter and other built-in security features helps to stay safe by protecting against deceptive and malicious websites which can compromise your data, privacy, and identity.

• In Windows Vista, browsing the Internet with Internet Explorer 7 is more secure than in Windows XP.

• Windows 7 include built in IE 8 which is prebuilt for a secure browsing experience.

Microsoft ActiveX® Installer Service
Many organizations must install ActiveX controls on their client computers to ensure that a variety of programs that they must use on a daily basis work properly. However, most ActiveX controls must be installed by a member of the Administrators group and, many organizations have configured or want to configure their users to run as standard users. As a result, organizations have to repackage and deploy the ActiveX controls to the users. In addition, many of these ActiveX controls must be regularly updated. Many organizations find this to be a difficult and costly process to manage for standard users.

With Windows Vista, IT pros can now easily deploy and update ActiveX controls in a standard user environment. The ActiveX Installer Service enables IT pros to use Group Policy to define approved host URLs that standard users can use to install ActiveX controls.

The ActiveX Installer Service is now installed by default in all versions of Windows 7. It is enabled and configured so that it can be started when it is requested by Web sites that provide ActiveX controls.

Administrators will now be able to specify policy to allow ActiveX controls to be installed from sites on the Trusted sites list in Internet Explorer. This list supports wildcard characters in the URLs for subdomains. This enables organizations with server farms or multiple trusted domains to be able to allow standard user accounts to install ActiveX controls from any site on the Trusted sites list.

• With Windows Vista, organizations can deploy, update, and manage ActiveX controls in environments that use standard user accounts.

• In Windows 7, organizations can use Group Policy to manage the installation of ActiveX controls.

Defense in depth
Buffer overruns trick software into running code that has been placed in areas of the computer’s memory set aside for data storage. A way to reduce the impact of such vulnerabilities is the Data Execution Prevention (DEP) feature, which uses the no-execute (NX) of some processors. Windows XP with SP3 supports DEP, but it is not enabled by default.
In Windows Vista, DEP is enabled by default for most components. Windows Vista introduces additional DEP policies that allow software developers to enable DEP in their code, independent of system-wide compatibility enforcement controls. This enables a higher percentage of NX-protected code in the software ecosystem.

DEP works best with Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), another defense capability in Windows Vista that makes it more difficult for malicious code to exploit a system function. ASLR randomly assigns executable images, such as .dll and .exe files, to one of 256 possible locations in memory. This makes it more difficult for malicious code to locate and take advantage of functionality inside the executables.

Because system services typically run with high system rights, they have been a major target for malicious software attacks. To mitigate this threat, Windows Vista has introduced the concept of restricted services, or service hardening. Restricted services can run under only the most restrictive rights possible, and they limit their activities to the minimum local computer or network resources they require to fulfill their task.

In Windows 7, users can adjust consent prompt behavior using a slider control, if they have administrative privileges.  

In Vista, security configurations are accessed from the Security Center in Control Panel. In Windows 7, you won’t see a Security Center. That’s because it’s been absorbed into a new Action Center. The Action Center has security configurations as well as options for other administrative tasks, like Backup, Troubleshooting And Diagnostics, and Windows Update.

Windows 7 has better bittlocker and UAC Controls.

A brand new feature in Windows 7 is DirectAccess, which allows remote users to connect securely to their corporate networks over the Internet without using a VPN. Administrators can apply Group Policy settings and otherwise manage the mobile computers and even update them whenever the mobile machines are connected to the Internet, regardless of whether the user is logged on to the corporate network.

DirectAccess also supports multifactor authentication with smart cards and uses IPv6 over IPsec for encrypting the traffic.

   Windows filtering platform, Powershell V 2, Applocker and biometric security is also a part of the Windows 7 OS.

• In Windows Vista, DEP is enabled by default for most components, and the operating system enables developers to enable DEP in their code.

• Windows Vista includes ASLR, which makes it difficult for malicious code to exploit system functions.

• Windows Vista introduces service hardening included with Windows 7 as well, which restricts the rights available to some system services.

Features Windows XP Windows Vista Windows 7 beta Key differences
Windows Mobility Center
Windows XP does not provide a central location for managing common mobility settings. Instead, users must open various programs and Control Panel items to manage mobility settings.
Windows Mobility Center, which original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can customize, puts the most frequently used portable computer settings in a single location. Now, users can change their display brightness, volume, power plan, wireless network, desktop wallpaper, external display (such as a network projector or additional monitor), and synchronization them all from one location.

Presentation Mode allows users to quickly turn off the screen saver, turn off system notifications, and prevent the portable computer from going to sleep. This feature enables users to prepare for giving presentations quickly, and users can customize additional presentation settings, such as the desktop background and volume level.

When using a Tablet PC, users can also rotate their displays. No more hunting through Control Panel or icons in the notification area to find what you need. All the important mobile settings are right there in Windows Mobility Center. Windows Mobility Center is available only on portable computers.

The mobility center is a central location for managing Mobile options for laptops or Notebooks in Windows 7. 

All the settings can be adjusted by just a sngle click within the control panel on windows moblity center.

• Windows Vista and Windows 7 provides one location for managing common mobility settings, while Windows XP requires users to open various Control Panel items to change the same settings.
Sync Center
Windows XP provides the ability to keep offline files or mobile devices synchronized, but the operating system does not provide a central location for managing all sync relationships. Users must use different programs to synchronize different devices.
Windows Vista gives users one place—the new Sync Center—to manage data synchronization between computers, between computers and servers, and between computers and devices. This capability has become increasingly important as the range of computers, devices, locations, and data sources that customers want to synchronize has expanded. Until now, there has been no easy way to manage all these individual sync relationships, so users have had to deal with many different sync experiences, depending on their devices or data sources.
Windows 7 syncs and manages data with much more ease then any other version of Windows. 

As with Vista, all the individual sync relationships can be controlled from a single location.

• Windows Vista and Windows 7provides a single location for managing sync relationships, whereas Windows XP users must rely on different programs for different devices.
Offline files
Offline files and folders allow users to create a sync relationship between a remote location and their computers. The sync infrastructure and UI track changes between the local version and the remote version and enable users to reconcile versions if conflicts exist.

Users can specify which network-based files and folders they would like to use when working offline. In addition, offline folders can be encrypted to provide a higher level of security. The entire file is synchronized, even if a user made only a few changes. This can make synching a time-consuming process, especially if users have many documents to sync.

Windows Vista supports ghosting of online files and folders. When users make only a few files from a directory available offline, Windows Vista creates ghosted entries of the remaining items to preserve the online context for users. When users are not connected to the remote data source and navigate to the remote location, they see these ghosted online items alongside the offline files.

Last, Windows Vista makes managing offline files and folders easier. Users manage sync relationships by using the Sync Center. Users can see the offline status of any file or folder in Windows Explorer. And the transition between online and offline is now completely transparent and seamless.

Windows 7 improves offline files and folders. First, it makes the sync process for offline folders much faster, with support for Delta Sync. Delta Sync synchronizes only the changed blocks of a file rather than the whole file when users synchronize client changes to the server. The advanced sync algorithm in Windows 7 is also much better at determining which files or directories need to be synchronized, adding even more efficiency. This efficiency enables the synchronization of additional larger files, such as Microsoft Office Outlook® .pst and .ost files.
• Synchronizing changes in offline files and folders is much faster in Windows Vista and Windows 7 than in Windows XP.

• Windows Vista supports ghosting, which provides a context for offline files and folders.

• Windows Vista and Windows 7 provides an improved UI for using and managing offline files and folders.

Windows Meeting Space
Windows Meeting Space allows groups to instantly and securely form a shared, common session for up to 10 people in the same “room.” Users can share a desktop or application with other participants or project the view to any Windows Vista– compliant network projector.
Windows Meeting Space is included within the OS, and is a part and parcel of it’s main architecture.
• Windows Vista andWindows 7  enables users to collaborate in new ways.
Network Projection
Windows Vista makes it easy to give a presentation from a portable computer. By using the Connect to a Network Projector Wizard, users can connect to any Windows-compatible network projector over a wireless or wired network. A network projector is a shared resource much like a printer on a network. Users can also use this feature in Windows Meeting Space, which enables them to stream content to a Windows Meeting Space session.
Windows 7 borrows it’s main architecture from Windows Vista and thus includes all the connectivity options  introduced in Vista. 

Network projection is a snap with Windows 7 as the user can easily connect to any wired or wireless network within the OS environment.

• Windows Vista and Windows 7 makes it far easier to give presentations from users’ computers.
Secure Sockets Tunnel  
Protocol (SSTP)
Windows XP supports Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and Layer-2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) VPN connections. In both cases, users often cannot connect successfully through some network configurations, such as those in public locations.
SSTP is a new tunneling protocol that uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) encapsulation over a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) channel. Because SSTP uses SSL traffic (TCP port 443), SSTP can be used in many different network configurations—for example, when VPN clients or servers are behind network address translation (NAT) devices, firewalls, or proxy servers. SSTP requires Windows Server® 2008 and Windows Vista with SP1.
SSTP first introduced in Windows Vista, is included within Windows 7 as well, making connections to the remote computers a snap.
By supporting SSTP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 enables users to create VPN connections in locations where they can’t connect when using Windows XP.
Power management
Windows XP made great strides in improving power management. However, data about remaining battery power was not always accurate. Also, standard users were not able to change power settings.
By intelligently monitoring CPU state, Windows Vista can reduce the amount of power it is using. Windows Vista also now provides more accurate data about the amount of power a computer has left, helping prevent a system from shutting down prematurely, and the operating system allows standard users to change power settings. In addition, Windows Vista enables organizations to manage power settings by using Group Policy.
Microsoft has also changed its thinking about the system timer; in Vista this is set to 1ms, in Windows 7 it will be 15ms, which reduces the power draw by 15 per cent. General performance improvements like reducing the amount of disk activity involved in reading from the registry and starting services on demand rather than running them in the background will also improve battery life. 

Windows 7 notebooks won't wake up from sleep for applications that use 'wake timers' (except for the timer that wakes the system when the battery is so low the PC needs to hibernate). Open files from a network and CPU utilization won't stop the screen turning off, the hard drive spinning down and the system going to sleep when you haven't  the user has not used the PC in a while; Windows 7 will only check for user input and applications like Media Center recording a long TV show. The screen will also dim to save power before turning off.

Windows 7 systems will also check their own power efficiency every two weeks (but only if the PC is idle and plugged in); you'll get a report and Microsoft will use the anonymized information to look for devices that aren't configured for power saving and ask the manufacturers to improve them.

• Windows 7 reduces power consumption.

• Windows 7 provides more accurate reports about remaining power.

• Windows Vista enables standard users to change power settings.

• Windows Vista enables Group Policy management of power settings.

Wireless networking
Windows XP provides support for the latest wireless networking standards and security. It also includes device drivers from most popular wireless network adapters in the box.
Windows Vista improves the wireless network experience in several ways. Users’ data is also more secure with enhanced support for the latest wireless security protocols, including Wi‐Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2). Windows Vista helps users avoid connecting to fraudulent wireless networks that seem like legitimate hotspots but, in fact, are not. Windows Vista also provides an easy way to create ad hoc wireless networks to use peer‐to‐peer applications such as file sharing and application collaboration.

Windows Vista provides new ways to manage wireless networking by using Group Policy and command‐line configuration tools. Wireless networking is now standard across hardware vendors.

Windows 7 provides new ways to manage wireless networking by using Group Policy and command‐line configuration tools. Wireless networking is now standard across hardware vendors.
• In Windows Vista, Network Awareness automatically chooses the best network connection to use when multiple connections are available to applications.

• Windows Vista helps protect users from connection to malicious wireless networks that masquerade as public wireless networks.

• Windows 7  has an improved User Interface for creating and managing wireless network connections.

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