Microsoft's mantra (or advertising line) for its new operating system, Windows Vista (formerly Windows Longhorn) is "Confidence, clarity, and connection." For you and me, that means a promise of greater stability and security within the OS, better graphics throughout, and an enhanced ability to share documents and files, including built-in P2P services. The software giant has followed the release of its Beta 1 with monthly interim builds that use coding intended for a future Beta 2 release. Specific features seen in these interim builds may or may not appear in the large-scale Beta 2 release or in the final version of Windows Vista (expected in late 2006). Here's a look at what we've seen thus far:
On July 27, 2005, Microsoft released Windows Vista Beta 1 to about 500,000 software developers worldwide. Microsoft wants to make sure that developers know how the new OS works before they put the finishing touches on the overall look and feel of Windows Vista.
After installing Beta 1 on our laptop, we were struck with a subtle déjà vu. Borrowing from Linux, Windows Vista runs all users at a Standard user level and creates a separate Administrator login, so even if you are the only user of the OS, you will still need to log in with Administrator privileges to do high-level work, such as changing the status of hidden or read-only files. Standard users should still be able to install and uninstall applications, provided they know the password for Administrator privileges. This extra effort should minimize the occurrence of spyware installing without your knowledge and remote-access exploits from taking control of your computer.
Borrowing from Apple Mac Tiger OS 10.4, Windows Vista incorporates enhanced desktop-search features throughout its new OS. You can search from the Windows Start menu or within applications, and you can also search within the new version of Internet Explorer 7. Also borrowing from Apple, Windows Vista does away with traditional file folders and allows you to "stack" related documents together. These virtual files can exist independent of where the actual file resides on the hard drive.
See our slide show for a detailed look inside the Beta 1 release.