Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
Microsoft designed Windows Vista to be the center of consumers' digital lives. The operating system supports myriad ways to store, organize and retrieve personal and premium content and opens the door to a nearly endless array of capabilities via add-on software. Powerful ultra mobile PCs such as the OQO Model 02 tantalize us with rich centralized access to nearly any digital resource.
Unfortunately, not everyone can abide by the role of the PCs as open platforms for creativity and customization. Among them are IT professionals responsible for ensuring the reliability and security of a corporate tool. Sometimes, strict controls aren't simply a matter of corporate fiat. PC support staff in government, healthcare and financial services may need to impose PC restrictions to comply with the law. For such scenarios, Microsoft builds administrative controls into Vista Enterprise to keep appropriate resources from leaving a PC and inappropriate software and content from getting on it.
In a subtle nod to life-work crossover, Microsoft offers Windows Vista Ultimate, which blends the premium version of its consumer operating system with some business-oriented features such as faxing. However, Vista Ultimate is really more about one-stop shopping for features in a premium-priced configuration and less about resolving the struggle for control between individual and enterprise.