Service provider takeaway: Microsoft Windows Vista is presenting value-added resellers with a new set of challenges in customer shops. Windows expert Jonathan Hassell answers the most popular questions about Vista that you and your peers are asking.
What types of resources (hardware, software, memory etc.) will SMBs and channel pros need in order to virtualize Windows Vista across a company?
Hassell: In terms of resources, most desktop hardware purchased within the last couple of years is powerful enough to run a virtualized instance of Microsoft Windows Vista without causing a problem. Memory is the greatest concern in a virtual environment. If you run a memory-intensive application in the virtual machine, I recommend 1 GB as a minimum for best performance and results. Windows Vista Enterprise, available via volume license agreements from Microsoft, gives the business appropriate rights to run a virtualized instance of Windows Vista without paying any additional fees.
I'm a vendor who is preparing to support Vista with my clients. Where should I start?
Hassell: There are a few steps to take when you're considering a Windows Vista product and/or service option for your clients.
- Know the available editions and pricing of Vista. If you're reselling, then you need to have a comprehensive understanding of what's available for your customers.
- Prepare to support any hardware upgrade or new system deployment projects they have. Corporations typically have regular hardware refresh cycles, although smaller business may not be that organized and systematic. Teach the opportunity to gain productivity with the new OS and new hardware combined.
- Get training for Vista. Microsoft has plenty of channel readiness events going on across America as part of their aptly named "Microsoft Across America" series. Purchase the Action Pack and deploy Vista internally so you can get experience in a test and development environment. If you're an independent software vendor, this is a crucial step.
- Understand the alternatives. Vista isn't right for everyone. Sometimes the best support advice you can give someone is to advise them against an upgrade or an unnecessary cost expenditure.
Does Microsoft have any training available for Vista?
Hassell:The Microsoft Partner Program (otherwise known as "Direct Access") offers Vista training. There are instructor-led events, sales and business-value web seminars, e-learning courses, online sales classes, and even in-person miniconferences available. Check out the events schedule for more details on what is available for you.
Is there a workaround for "unsigned" drivers for specialized peripherals in Vista?
Hassell:There isn't really a workaround – preventing unsigned drivers from being installed is a key security feature of Windows Vista and is designed to ensure that rogue drivers can't gain access to sensitive parts of a machine's internals. While administrator-level users can acknowledge the warning about unsigned drivers and (after acknowledging a User Account Control prompt, if enabled) install the driver, the dialog is there for a reason. Note that the 64-bit edition of Windows Vista prevents any unsigned driver from being installed, even with the administrator's consent.
I've heard a lot of conflicting reports about Windows Vista's graphics card requirements. Is the hype around the new interface and its 3D textures really something to worry about?
Hassell: Most of the reports you've heard are probably exaggerated or even just plain false. Aero, or Aero Glass as it's been informally called, doesn't require that much more in terms of hardware beef than the standard Aero Basic interface. The reports you are hearing started early in the beta process, but as Vista development has continued down its course the requirements have lessened and become more manageable.
Just about any fairly new computer -- that is, one purchased in the last two years -- will run Aero Glass just fine. For those computers that can't support Glass, Aero Basic is perfectly adequate. Glass is just eye candy.
About the author:Jonathan Hassell is an author, consultant and speaker residing in Charlotte, N.C. Jonathan's books include RADIUS, Learning Windows Server 2003, Hardening Windows and most recently Windows Vista: Beyond the Manual.