This paper provides comparisons between various Microsoft’s operating systems. It compares Windows Vista and Windows 7 as well as Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. Windows Vista and Windows 7 are client’s operating systems while Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 are server systems. The paper provides recommendations of the best operating system that Riordan Manufacturing should use to implement its network system.
Windows Vista and Windows 7
Both Windows Vista and Windows 7 represent a significant improvement to the previous versions of Windows client operating systems (OS) in terms of features. Essentially, Windows 7 includes several features that characterize Windows Vista. However, the preference for Windows Vista has been low compared to Windows 7 (Panek & Wentworth, 2010, p. 3; Schmid & Roos, 2009). Panek (2010, p. 5) highlights that “majority of the IT market did not switch to Windows Vista.” Some of the reasons for this low preference and adoption of Windows Vista include poor performance and slow speed.
The performance of Windows 7 is far much better than that of Windows Vista. It is a common perception that Windows Vista requires high-end hardware to run it. Panek and Wentworth (2010, p. 5) note that to operate Windows Vista properly it is necessary to have an advanced machine with a dual-core processor. Furthermore, Windows Vista consumes much more hard disk space compared to Windows 7 (Panek & Wentworth, 2010, p. 5). Williams (2009) has noted that downgrading from Windows Vista to Windows has been common, and it has often resulted in improved battery life for laptops.
Schmid and Roos (2009) have highlighted that the performance of an OS can be looked at in terms of “user experience” during regular activities such as “system bootup, standby, application launching, hibernation, or shutdown.” Windows 7 boots and shuts down much faster than Windows Vista (Panek & Wentworth, 2010, p. 3). In addition, the functions of Windows 7 are faster compared to those of Windows Vista. Panek and Wentworth (2010, p. 5) have noted that “opening, moving, extracting, compressing and installing files and folders are more efficient” in Windows 7 than in Windows Vista. A test conducted on the performance of Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows XP using a standard machine revealed that Windows 7 was the fastest of the three operating systems in terms of boot time and files transfer (Williams, 2009).
The task bar of Windows 7 is also superior to that of Windows Vista. The Quick Launch in Windows Vista has been substituted by the Jump List and the Task Bar in Windows 7. Panek and Wentworth (2010, p.3) notes that Windows 7 Task Bar offers the advantage of less icons on the desktop, which in turn enhances the manageability of the desktop. The Jump Lists feature is unique to Windows 7. It allows quick access to files.
Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008
It is apparent that Windows Server 2008 is an advancement of Windows Server 2003. Although Windows Server 2008 has a number of aspects absent in other previous Windows servers, it maintains some features of Windows Server 2003. To begin with, the two servers use a role-based approach to management of functionality. However, the differences between the two servers come with the way the roles are named and organized. In Windows Server 2008, an administrator uses the Server Manager tool to manage roles while in Windows Server 2003 the tool that manages the roles is known as Manage Your Server. The Server Manager in Windows Server 2008 serves the purpose of three features in Windows Server 2003: the Security Configuration Wizard, the Manage Your Server tool, and the Add or Remove Windows Components tool. The Server Manager is more advanced that the Manage Your Server tool in Windows Server 2003 in that it allows a general view of each role’s status. According to Microsoft (2008), the Server Manager has increased the efficiency of administering the server. Note that a role is an activity of the server (Seguis, 2008, p. 106). Besides roles, functionality management in Windows Server 2008 is also characterised by features. A feature is software that is added to assist the server in performing tasks (Seguis, 2008, p. 106).
Compared to Windows Server 2003, the roles and features approach in Windows Server 2008 has improved security of the server. Windows Server 2008 includes a Server Core, which is a “minimal installation option,” such that at start up the server has barely any services, features, or functionality activated (Hynes, 2006; Morimoto, Noel, Droubi, Mistry, & Amaris, 2008, p. 583). This set up has allowed the reduction of the attack surface (Hynes, 2006). An attack surface refers to codes or programs of a system that can be run from the outside without authentication. The Server Core excludes the Windows Shell and other services such as the Power shell, the.NET Framework, and the Internet Explorer (Hynes, 2006). Mueller (2008, p. 113) has pointed out that the management of roles using the Serve manager is more centred on security than it is the case with Windows Server 2003. The Server Manager allows configuration of only the required functionality represented by a server role, hence, also reduces the attack surface of the server. The Server Manager also eliminates the weaknesses inherent in the Add or Remove Windows Components applet that characterize Windows server 2003. The applet can make installation of functionality difficult or conceal server functionality (Mueller, 2008, p. 113).
Windows Server 2008 is also more scalable than Windows Server 2003. Scalability is defined as the ability of a system to handle increasing or additional work without considerable degradation to its functioning. Mueller (2008, p. 154) has concurred that Windows Server 2008 has more “levels of additional scalability” than earlier versions of Windows. He classifies these levels of scalability as “improved software support,” “direct device participation,” and “direct client participation” (Mueller, 2008, p. 154).
The Active Directory of Windows Server 2008 is a bit different to that of Windows Server 2003. To begin with, roles and features of Windows Server 2008’s Active Directory are named differently from its predecessor. The roles of Windows Server 2003’s Active Directory are included in the Active Directory Domain Services (ADDS) of Windows Server 2008. In addition, a number of services such as Active Directory Rights Management Services (ADRMS), Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS), and Active Directory Certificate Services (ADCS) have been included in Windows Server 2008. Hynes (2006) has highlighted that this modelling of the Active Directory allows increased efficiency and enhanced manageability. It is worth to note that the various services in the Active Directory correspond to various server roles.
The results of the comparison show that Windows 7 is more superior to Windows Vista in several aspects. In addition, Windows Server 2008 has more advantages than Windows Serve 2003, which makes it ideal for networking. The recommendation is that the network system for the Riordan Manufacturing should use Windows 7 as the client operating system and Windows Server 2008 as its server system.
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