RealTime IT News

PC Companies Tout Vista Enhancements

UPDATED: Microsoft's PC partners aren't likely to upstage Microsoft  at the big rollout in New York today of Vista. But an interesting side note is the effort PC companies are making to supplement the new Microsoft OS and simplify the transition for enterprise customers.

Vista officially launches today for corporations and other large organizations, while the packaged consumer version won't be available until late January.

Lenovo, Dell,  and HP  said they're ready to launch Vista-related software.

Lenovo, for example, has enhanced its ThinkVantage Technologies (TVT) for Vista Enterprise edition. One component of TVT, Rescue and Recovery, is a fully-integrated extension of Vista's own built-in protection that restores a PC to its previous working state, even if the operating system will not boot.

Rescue and Recovery is designed to help users diagnose and recover systems from catastrophic software failures caused by viruses and malware .

Deepak Advani, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Lenovo, said the company refers to it as "the blue button of life," during a press conference in New York this morning.

Advani said that Lenovo has been working to integrate Vista into its new laptops for well over a year. "We have opened centers of excellence in the U.S. and in China and we're going to open one in the U.K. as well," he said.

During the upgrade-to-Vista process, users will be able to create a backup image of their Lenovo system to an external optical drive or hard disk. If the upgrade fails, they can recover at the touch of a button.

ThinkVantage Access Connections is a profile management utility that automatically switches network, security, printer, browser settings and more when users change locations. This essentially allows users to “speed-dial” a network.

Users can set profiles for different locations, such as office Ethernet connections, wireless connections in the home, an airline lounge through a wireless wide area network (WWAN) or coffee shop through a wireless hot spot.

Among the advantages the software provides IT is a reduced need for users to deal with the complexities of managing connection settings. Lenovo said it also reduces reliance on remote support.

The software is free and comes with all new ThinkPads and ThinkCentre PCs. Users of older versions can download the latest updates.

Lenovo has also included a security chip, the Trusted Platform Module  (TPM) in its systems for many years. Vista will ship with drivers for TPM that Lenovo plans to leverage to enhance its security features. For example, Lenovo's shipped four million systems with a built-in fingerprint reader for security.

"You'll be able to store all your passwords and logins encrypted using the chip," said Clain Anderson, director of security & affiliated software for Lenovo's software and peripherals business unit.

Using the fingerprint reader for ID, Anderson said users would have the option to let the system automatically fill in passwords and any ID information when filling in registration forms.

HP is rolling out an array of support services and Vista-related software. The computer and printer giant said its OpenView enterprise management software will support both the Windows Vista and Exchange Server 2007 environments.

HP's smart plug-ins (SPIs) – including the Exchange Server 2007 SPI – are designed to ensure seamless interoperability with the new platforms for companies looking to upgrade.

Like Lenovo, HP was an early provider of TPM 1.2 embedded security and that continues with its Vista-ready PCs and notebooks. Additionally, HP said it will offer several features for notebook Vista users. These include its HP Mobile Data Protection 3D and HP Wireless Assistant, which offer improved wireless access management and improved data protection.

Meanwhile, Dell is focusing on Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 migration tools for its corporate customers. For example, customers with a volume license agreement from Microsoft can send Dell its Vista image and have Dell factory-install it through its standard imaging service.

For companies migrating to Vista, Dell offers the Windows Vista ROI Tool, which it said gives quantifiable information to help plan and budget around their migration. The software lets customers track their total cost of ownership for up to three years.

Exchange Advisor Tool provides a blueprint designed to optimize and simplify customers email environments including system sizing, availability, data security, backup and recovery, and archiving.