The first reviews are starting to come in about Windows 7, and email admins may be wondering, “Is my email going to be more secure?” The answer is, as always, “it depends”. For the most part, secure email comes in the form of good policy, and good third-party technology that works with the operating system, not specifically the operating system itself. Nonetheless, the OS can make a big difference.
Vista, despite the many complaints that have constantly been made against it, is more secure than XP. There’s absolutely no questioning that, and those that stuck with XP were at a disadvantage because of it. Windows 7 retains much of the same security features as Vista with a few improvements, while addressing many of the areas that caused complaints.
One security improvement in Vista was the User Account Control (UAC). Yes, I know, nobody liked that one, because it was annoying and popped up a dialog whenever a user installed new software. Nonetheless, it has a valid purpose, and having to click “yes” on a dialog seems a small price to pay to avoid having a user open up an email, click on an attachment, and have a rogue app sneak up on you when you’re not looking. The downside of UAC was its inflexibility, you had to have all or nothing; that is, either take it as is, or turn it off completely. Windows 7 adds a little more flexibility with a type of slider control, which cuts down on the number of alerts the end user may see. Some other new security goodies include extended drive encryption support, which now includes removable storage devices, biometrics enhancements for more secure logon, and performance improvements on the antispyware product Windows Defender.
Another big benefit is compatibility between Vista and Windows 7. Third party security programs had a hard time going from XP to Vista, leaving some users out in the cold for using their favorite third party apps. Going from Vista to Windows 7 will not present such problems. All in all, it appears to be a solid improvement, and I’m looking forward to seeing the final version.