Every 6 months Microsoft publishes a freely available Security Intelligence Report (SIR), looking at what’s happening to threaten the security of our personal and corporate computing.  Mostly it‘s written in English and if you can’t find the time to read it all I would at least recommend the summary.

All this work is part of Microsoft’s commitment to security. Another part of this commitment is Vista. It’s the security in Vista that means that some applications don’t work (they want resources and access levels that are no longer allowed), it meant that many drivers had to be rewritten (for much the same reasons) and it shows up again as User Account Control whenever you install something.  All of this affects IT Professional like me more than my mum, because I’m always installing stuff (like SQL Server), playing with new devices (or really old ones!) and trying out software. 

However the benefit of that security investment in Vista shows up well in this graph from the SIR report..

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..where the fewer the problems the better.  The benefits of applying the latest service packs can also be seen especially for XP and it’s also interesting to see that Vista scores better than Windows 2000.  Windows Server 2008 scores best of all, and this is because of the core it shares with Vista, plus the way the modularisation of it’s features and roles reduces its attack surface to only what is needed.

My parting shot is that my wife’s 3 month old office laptop (dual core 2Gb RAM) runs XP and runs like a snail, because of all of the add-ons to make it secure such as third party firewalls, VPN software and disk encryption etc.