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Windows Vista is coming and will be here sooner than some might think. By now everybody has probably seen the new graphical changes with the new Aero and Aero Glass user interfaces and heard all about the new User Account Control (UAC) security improvements designed to make the operating system more secure.

But what about the “under-the-hood” changes in the Vista kernel? There are lots of exciting changes being made in the areas of performance, scalability, reliability, and security.

I had the opportunity to attend TechEd this year in Boston and listened to Mark Russinovich and David Solomon present a talk on some of the new kernel features, such as:

  • Better CPU and memory utilization
  • There are new kernel synchronization APIs available to developers
  • There are many improvements in device I/O, including the support for cancellation
  • Services can now be set to delayed autostart so they don’t have a performance impact at logon, can specify their shutdown order and receive pre-shutdown notifications
  • SuperFetch, ReadyBoost, ReadyDrive, and BitLocker Drive Encryption
  • User Mode Driver Framework (UMDF)
  • Better pre-boot and system startup, including the new Boot Configuration Database (BCD) and Address Space Load Randomization (ASLR)
  • User Account Control (UAC) and service security improvements, including Session 0 isolation and a new credentials provider model
  • Support for transactions with the new Kernel Transaction Manager (KTM)
  • Windows Error Reporting (WER) to catch unhandled application exceptions

The changes being made for Windows Server “Longhorn” will be a superset of the changes being made in Vista. Many of these changes will be merged back in to Vista with Vista Service Pack 1, which will probably be available sometime after “Longhorn” ships.

This is a summary of the session, to get the full details go to here.

Scott Dorman