By now, you have probably heard of the next version of the Microsoft
Windows operating system named Windows Vista. This new version
has been in the works for quite some time (under the codename
Longhorn), and during the last couple of months we have started
to see more promising versions of the operating system from Microsoft
in the way of beta releases.
month, our resident support guru and guest writer, coney,
chimes in on his experiences with Windows Vista
getting back from the last month's Microsoft Professional
Developers Conference in Los Angeles, I got the opportunity
to take a look at the latest Community Technology Preview build
5219. Microsoft gave this version out to attendees of the conference
after the keynote presentation where Bill Gates and other Microsoft
execs touted some of the new features in Vista.
is important to remember that Vista is not due to ship until
the second-half of 2006 and Microsoft still has a lot of work
to do, but I can tell you that the latest CTP is better than
Beta 1 that came out in July. Let's take a quick look
at some of the new features and some screenshots. This is by
no means meant to be an in-depth review of Vista, but it will
provide you with some general information on what is coming.
The first thing that you notice when installing Vista is how
Microsoft has made the installation simpler. Just enter the
product ID, agree to the End-User License Agreement, select
the installation location, and you are off and installing...
and installing... and installing….
current install takes quite a while. I have not timed it yet,
but you can easily walk away from your computer, get some lunch,
a back massage, and a cappuccino, and then return just in time
to watch the “Completing installation…” screen
for a while. Ok, so maybe I am stretching it a little, but it
is not a short install.
New User Interface – Aero
Aero is the name of the new UI that Microsoft has been working
on for Vista. I really like the looks of it compared to Windows
XP. I am not a user that likes his OS to be pretty and flashy,
but Microsoft appears to have gotten it right with Aero. I have
my Windows XP theme setup to look just like Windows 2000 and
I like it that way, during the last couple of weeks Aero has
really started to grow on me. Just take a look at the screenshot
below and see what I am talking about. It is not too bright
and the UI is very easy to look at and use.
has been a lot of talk about Vista requiring way too much horsepower
in the aspect of video cards and system resources. Most of this
is due to the new Aero Glass 3D user interface. There are some
reasons to admire Glass, like translucent effects for menus
and the desktop. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the standard
Aero and Aero Glass 3D.
order for a system to be able to use the Glass features, the
video card will need to have at least 64MB of video memory (128
MB recommended) and a Longhorn Display Driver Model driver.
It is also recommended that the video card support the complete
DirectX 9 API.
Glass also provides easier ways to get around all the windows
that you may have open. A feature codenamed “Flip”
provides you with a preview of a window's contents when
you use the ALT+TAB keys to navigate them. Another very nice
feature of glass is the “Flip 3D” feature, just
press the Windows Key + Spacebar to activate. All of the open
windows tilt and show in a 3D view that allows you to easily
select which window you want.
The developers at Microsoft have also made some changes to the
Start Menu. The All Programs link on the menu no longer opens
a separate menu to the right of the Start Menu; instead a menu
is shown on the left side of the Start Menu that has a scroll
bar which moves up and down. When you click on a folder in the
All Programs menu, it will expand the folder allowing you to see
all the items contained within. This change has taken some getting
used to during the last couple of weeks, and overall I like the
way it functions when compared to having a huge menu that could
form multiple columns.
right from the Start Menu
Microsoft and many others have been talking about the integration
of Microsoft Desktop Search with Vista and the new feature called
Virtual Folders. With the popularity of desktop search utilities
by Google and others, Microsoft appears to have wanted to make
this a core feature in Vista. Just take a look at the changes
to the standard search dialog. On the Start Menu and throughout
the OS you will find a search box in each window. Searching can
be done based on Labels or metadata that has been specified for
files. The metadata makes it is easier to categorize your files
for later searching and setting up virtual folders.
folders are being compared to having saved or pre-configured
searches in Windows. Each virtual folder has a search criteria
attached to it, and when you open the folder Windows will go
about searching the computer for files that meet those criteria.
Vista comes with some virtual folders already configured when
you install it, and you will see them when you open the new
Explorer the first time. The virtual folders are the blues ones,
which makes it easy to tell them apart from actual directories.
metadata attached to files you can create as many virtual folders
as you want to easily find files on your computer. You could
create virtual folders for clients and one for invoices, but
have a client invoices appear in both and reference the same
During the last couple of years there have not been any real
upgrades to Microsoft's popular browser, but this is going
to change with the introduction with IE 7. IE 7 introduces the
long-anticipated feature of tab-browsing, already present in
many competitor's browsers. I do not understand how Microsoft
got away with not including this feature for so long, but it
is finally here. Microsoft has been pushing security in their
products pretty hard, and they plan to do the same for IE7 with
the introduction of the “Phishing Filter” aimed
to help users avoid malicious websites.
7 will also include support for RRS feeds, a new printing feature
to make pages finally shrink-to-fit on the paper size that they
are printed on, and also a version of IE 7 that contains no
add-in support. The IE with no add-on support can be used when
IE has been hijacked by malicious software and you can no longer
use the regular version on your computer.
I said at the beginning of this article, this is just a very
quick look at some of what Vista has to offer. There is a lot
more to see and I am sure that there will be quite a few changes
before the final version is released later next year. Keep an
eye out on Random Access for more Vista information during the