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Windows Vista.

Windows Vista is Microsoft's next version of its Windows operating system, designed to follow Windows XP. It was previously known by the codename Longhorn; the name "Vista" was unveiled July 22, 2005. Longhorn Server, the successor of Windows Server 2003, is still to be named.

Overview

Windows Vista was originally expected to ship sometime early in 2006 as a minor step between Windows XP and Windows Blackcomb. Gradually, Vista assimilated many important new features and technologies of Blackcomb. On August 27, 2004, Microsoft announced that it is delaying release of WinFS so that Vista could be released in to a reasonable timeframe (officially marked as December of 2006). Two beta versions have been planned, the first released on July 27, 2005, and the second planned for release in Q4 2005, with release candidates to be released throughout 2006, five years after the release of Windows XP, making it the longest time span between releases of its Windows operating system.

Vista is currently available as a beta release available to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers, a select group of Microsoft beta testers and at select Microsoft developer conferences such as PDC and WinHEC. The preview release is classified as a beta version at the moment, and as such its performance and feature sets are not representative of the release product. Like many other products (including all Windows releases since Windows 98), it has since been leaked onto popular networks (file sharing or otherwise) such as IRC, BitTorrent and various Newsgroups.

Technologies

Microsoft labels the key new technologies as "The Pillars of Vista", which are:

* Fundamentals: new developments to the basic structure of the operating system including the .NET framework, further support for digital rights management (DRM), an application deployment engine ("ClickOnce"), improvements to the installation of applications (Windows Installer/MSI 4.0), and the Trustworthy Computing initiative, previously known as Palladium.

* Windows Presentation Foundation or WPF, formerly code named Avalon: a new user interface subsystem and API based on XML, NET, and vector graphics, which will make use of 3D computer graphics hardware and Direct3D technologies.

* Windows Communication Foundation or WCF, formerly code named Indigo: a service-orientrd messaging system to allow programs to interoperate locally or remotely similar to web services.

* WinFX (not to be confused with "WinFS"): a new API to allow access to these new features, replacing the current "Win32" API (see Windows API).

It is worth noting that WPF, WCF, and WinFX are technologies that will be made available to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 as well, and are therefore not technologies to be exclusive to Vista, but rather developed in time for the Vista release, to be incorporated in that operating system. This doesn't imply coming visual changes to these operating systems though, as Aero will still be exclusive to Vista. The reason for backporting these technologies is to allow an easier introduction to these technologies to developers and end users.

On March 26th Microsoft released a Community Preview featuring both WPF and WCF to enable developers to experiment with the new technologies without running the Alpha version of Vista. Due to many requests it was released to the general public and is available at Microsofts website (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/info.aspx?

Features

Additionally, Vista will include many other new features. Please note that not all of these features are guaranteed to be in the final Windows Vista release, these are simply features that have been mentioned as likely being part of Windows Vista but may be pulled due to development limitations. Also note that each specific version of Windows Vista will contain a slightly different feature set.

Aero

Vista will include a completely re-designed user interface, code-named Aero. The new interface is intended to be cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing than previous Windows, including new transparencies, animations and eye candy implemented similarly to Mac OS X's Quartz Compositor. The overall GUI, from first impressions, resembles a Windows XP theme pack, but Microsoft makes it clear that the changes are by no means all superficial -however the improved aesthetics will reinforce faith in Windows platform and keep potential switchers from leaving the OS.

Microsoft has announced that in order to allow OpenGL applications to appear as part of the Aero interface, OpenGL will be implemented as a layer on top of DirectX in Vista. As a result OpenGL performance may be as much as 50% worse than in Windows XP.

Search

Vista will feature a new search engine that will allow for instant display of results for a given search. This is in contrast to the search engine of Windows XP, which can take several minutes to display results. The Vista search will allow you to add multiple filters to continually refine your search (Such as "File contains the word 'example"). There will also be saved searches that will act as Virtual Folders, where opening a folder will execute a specific search automatically and display the results as a normal folder, as is currently offered in Microsoft Outlook 2003. The search will also feature other usability improvements. The Vista search is actually built on an expanded and improved version of the indexing service for the search in Windows XP. This feature is similar to the MSN Search Toolbar and Apple's Spotlight technology.

Windows Vista search will go beyond just finding files. Programs developed for Vista can easily add in search to their own programs making them much easier to use in file related tasks. In order for Vista to read and interpret files, software makers must start making "IFilters" that detail how a file is structured.

Metro

Metro is the codename for Microsoft' s next generation document format, which is based on XML. It is similar in many ways to Adobe Systems' PDF. Metro is intended to allow users to view, print, and archive files without the original program that created them. The name Metro also refers to the print path in Vista. With Metro, documents can remain in the same format from the time they are created to the time they are printed. Microsoft states that Metro will provide better fidelity to the original document by using a consistent format for both screen and print output-While many analysts suspect Metro is intended to be a "PDF-killer", Microsoft insists that they are not attempting to duplicate all the functionality of the PDF. For example, at flie time of this writing, Metro is not planned to have the capabilities for dynamic documents.

Shell

The new shell is a significant change from previous versions of Windows. Combined with the new desktop searching feature, the shell gives users the ability to find and organize their files in new ways. Apart from the typical file organization practice of using folders to contain files, a new collection known as Lists let you organize files from multiple locations in a single place.

A new type of folder known as a Shadow Folder has the ability to revert its entire contents to any arbitrary point in the past.

Additionally, the shell contains significant advancements in the visualization of files on a computer. Previous versions of the Windows Shell would display thumbnails to represent different files on your computer. In Windows Vista the thumbnail concept is taken further by overlaying different imagery to communicate more information about the particular file such as a picture frame around the thumbnail of an image file, or a filmstrip on a video file. Windows Vista helps the user identify the file easily by more intelligently generating the thumbnails. Using algorithmic analysis, images are cropped around their likely subject, and interesting key frames are automatically chosen from a video fide. Also, the ability to zoom the thumbnails in the shell greatly increases their usefulness.

Networking

Windows Vista is expected to have a brand new networking stack. A significant change is a more complete implementation of IPv6 which is now supported by all networking components, services, and the user interface. Vista also takes advantage of peer-to-peer technology to provide a new type of domain-like networking setup known as a Castle. Castles make it possible for user credentials to propagate across networked computers without a centralized server, making them more suitable for a home network. The ability to assist the user in diagnosing a network problem is expected to be a major new networking feature. Using technologies such as UPnP, Windows Vista has a greater awareness of the network topology the host computer is in. With this new network awareness technology it can provide help to the user in fixing network issues or simply provide a graphical view of the perceived network configuration.

Other features

* Full support for the "NX" (No-Execute) feature of processors. This feature, present in AMD's AMD64 architecture, as well as Intel's EM64T architecture, can flag certain parts of memory as containing data instead of executable code, which prevents overflow errors from resulting in arbitrary code execution. This should not be confused with trusted computing facilities provided by a so-called Ftitz-chip.

* Built-in DVD recording capabilities, including Mt. Rainier support.

* A new installation program that will install Vista in about 15 minutes (which is present in alpha build 4074 of Windows Vista).

* Native Raw image support (a format used by most professional digital cameras).

* Native, embedded RSS suppom with developer API.

* File encryption support superior to that available in Windows XP, which will make it easier and more automatic to prevent unauthorized viewing of files on stolen laptops or hard drives.

* The "My" prefixes will be dropped, so "My Documents" will just be "Documents", "My Computer" will just be "Computer", etc.

* Windows System Assessment Tool (WinSat), a built in benchmarking tool which analyzes the different subsystems (graphics, memory, etc), and uses the results to allow for comparison to other Vista systems, and for software optimizations. The optimizations can be made by both windows and third-party software. Tom's Hardware Overview (http,//www.tomshardware.com/column/2005071I/index.html)

* File virtualization, a feature that automatically creates private copies of files that an application can use when it does not have permission to access the original files. This facilitates stronger file security and helps applications not written with security in mind to run under stronger restrictions.

* Transactional File Transfers, prevents a half updated set of files from being created during updates for example, which can cause stability problems.

* InfoCard, a user interface to the Identity Metasystem (http-.//www.identitybiog.com/stories/2005/07/05/IdentityMetasystem.html).

* SafeDocs Restore Service, a Windows Backup tool allowing automatic backup of files, recovery of specific files and folders, recovery of specific file types, or recovery all files.

* New Japanese font called Meiryo, supporting the new and modified characters of the JIS X 0213:2004 standard. (http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/2005/0729/ms.html)

* Support of UNIX-style symbolic links (http://blakeross.com/index.php?p=161)

Features and technologies delayed until future releases

* WinFS (short for Windows File System): a combined relational database and (high level) filesystem, built from the next version of SQL Server (codenamed Yukon) and the existing NTFS physical file system. The removal of WinFS from Windows Vista was announced in August 2004, and it is expected to be released instead as an update to Vista, entering beta stages at about the same time as Vista is released. Microsoft's promotion of this technology has spurred the recent trend towards desktop search tools.

* Full implementation of MSH.

Graphics hardware requirements

Vista's graphics requirements are defined in relation to the different desktop experiences.

Aero Glass

This graphics mode adds support for 3D graphics, animation and visual special effects in addition to the features offered by Aero Express.

* Intended for mainstream and high-end graphics cards.

* At least 64 MB of graphics memory, 128 MB recommended, or 25 6 MB for 1600x 1200+.

* At least 32 bits per pixel.

* 3D hardware acceleration with capabilities equal to DirectX 9.

* A memory bandwidth of 2 GB / second.

* Capable of drawing -1.5M triangles / second, one window being -150 triangles.

* A graphics card that uses AGP 4X or PCI Express 8-lane bus.

It is likely that such a configuration will be entry-level or lower by Vista's release in 2006.

Aero Triamond

A graphics mode customized for the Vista Media Center Edition, and will not be made available in the other editions. Not much information is currently available, but it appears that it will be the most advanced level of graphics in Vista, requiring hardware at the same level or greater than the Acro Glass visual style.

Aero Express

The lesser Aero visual experience offering only the basic visual improvements introduced by Vista, such as composition based DPI scaling.

* Intended for mainstream or lower-end graphics cards.

* Uses the Avalon Desktop Composition window manager.

* A Vista Driver Display Model (LDDM) driver is a requirement.

Some graphics cards already support LDDM. In some Vista builds (4074, 5048), LDDM is already supported to run Aero Glass.

To Go

The new Vista look & feel without any visual special effects, similar to the visual style Luna of Windows XP in that it resembles merely an application skin. As with Luna, no additional hardware requirements compared to the classic Windows interface.

* A simple option for consumer upgrades, and mobile / low-cost devices.

* No additional requirements compared to the lesser Classic mode.

* Fallback mode in case the hardware requirements for Aero aren't met.

Classic

The most basic user interface offered by Vista, which is also seen in Windows 2000, or Windows XP with its visual style Luna deactivated.

* An option for corporate deployments and upgrades. * Requires Windows XP Display Driver Model (XPDM) or LDDM drivers. * No graphics card hardware requirements exceeding those of Windows XP.

General hardware requirements

No complete details of Vista's hardware requirements have yet been revealed by Microsoft beyond general recommendations and guidelines.

The guidelines for Beta I give this basic guide

* 512 megabytes or more of RAM

* a dedicated graphics card with DirectLX 9.0 support

* a modem Intel Pentium- or AMD Athlon-based PC

Naming considerations

Vista means "the visual percept of a region", with these synonyms: aspect, panorama, prospect, scene and view. Translated from Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, vista means: sight, vision, ability to see; look, glimpse; spectacle; viewfinder; range of view; point of view. Amusingly, "vista" means simply "hen" in the Latvian language, while "(o)perating system" without the initial "o" means literally "a system for producing eggs".

Windows Vista will carry the version number 6.0 (Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 being Windows NT versions 5.0, 5.1 and 5.2, respectively).

Notably, the word "Vista" contains the Roman numeral VI.
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Title Annotation:SOFTWARE FUTURE
Publication:Software World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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