The Windows Vista Security Guide contains the following Overview:

Welcome to the Windows Vista Security Guide. This guide provides instructions and recommendations to help strengthen the security of desktop and laptop computers running Windows Vista in a domain with the Active Directory directory service.

In addition to the solutions that the Windows Vista Security Guide prescribes, the guide includes tools, step-by-step procedures, recommendations, and processes that significantly streamline the deployment process. Not only does the guide provide you with effective security setting guidance, it also provides a reproducible method that you can use to apply the guidance to both test and production environments.

The key tool that the Windows Vista Security Guide provides for you is the GPOAccelerator.wsf script. The tool enables you to run a script that automatically creates all the Group Policy objects (GPOs) you need to apply this security guidance. The Windows Vista Security Guide Settings.xls file that also accompanies this guide provides another resource that you can use to compare setting values.

Microsoft engineering teams, consultants, support engineers, partners, and customers have reviewed and approved this prescriptive guidance to make it:

Proven . Based on field experience.

Authoritative . Offers the best advice available.

Accurate . Technically validated and tested.

Actionable . Provides the steps to success.

Relevant . Addresses real-world security concerns.

Consultants and system engineers develop best practices for the implementation of Windows Vista, Windows XP Professional, Windows Server 2003, and Windows 2000 in a variety of environments. If you are evaluating Windows Vista for your environment, the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment solution accelerator can help organizations determine the readiness of their computers to run the Windows Vista operating system. This tool quickly inventories computers, identifies the supported Windows Vista experience, and recommends specific hardware and device driver upgrades as appropriate.

Microsoft has published guides for both Windows XP with Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows XP with SP2. This guide references significant security enhancements in Windows Vista. The guide was developed and tested with computers running Windows Vista joined to a domain that uses Active Directory, as well as with stand-alone computers.

Note   All references to Windows XP in this guide refer to Windows XP with SP2 unless otherwise stated.