Five Things You Didn't Know About Windows Vista

Some of the more offbeat angles surrounding Microsoft's upcoming operating system involve guessing its launch date, finding where to go to get a Vista-related job, and seeing who's got the

January 14, 2006

4 Min Read
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Microsoft's latest Windows Vista beta, in the field less than a month, has been getting a thorough going over from developers and early adopters as they strive to learn as much about the operating system as possible in advance its official release later this year.

Developers have been posting their experiences, questions, and complaints to a special series of forums and newsgroups set up by Microsoft. Some have also blogged about their experiences on Microsoft's MSDN developer network as well as on independent sites such as The Hive,, and the unofficial Vista blog.

Such venues are also bringing to light a number of slightly offbeat facts surrounding the Vista universe. Accordingly, after extensively trolling these and other sites, we've gathered together the best of this, er, stuff, and put it together, Jeopardy-style, in the form of five questions.

What's the official Windows Vista launch Date?

That's been a moving target for years (in 2002, the launch of Longhorn, the original code name of Windows Vista, was scheduled for 2004). Last year, Microsoft settled on 2006 as the ship date. In his recent CES keynote, Bill Gates re-emphasized that Windows Vista will ship this year. But he didn't provide a specific date.

Therein lies the apparent seeds of Microsoft's "Guess the Launch Date Contest" contest. Unfortunately not open to U.S. residents, it's hosted on Microsoft's EMEA site and is aimed at residents of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Winners get a trip to the international Vista launch event in the USA, whenever and wherever that may be, along with three nights in a four-star hotel.Interestingly, second through fourth prize winners might consider themselves even luckier, since they win a new Xbox 360 system.Want to work on Vista?

Like the Vista beta 2 so much you want to work on the OS for real? You're in luck. Microsoft's career site has posting for nearly 200 jobs which have at least something to do with Windows Vista.

Positions range from hard-core software developers to "architect evangelist" where you'll "be responsible for dreaming, designing and building new top-level user-centric Windows experiences."

For some informed perspective on working at Microsoft, Rob Relyea, a program manager in the Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly, Avalon) group and an eight-year Microsoft veteran, has blogged about his job-search experiences at the company.

What's a quick way to learn to write Vista-aware code?On his blog, Tim Sneath, a Microsoft Windows Vista Technical evangelist, suggested setting up a series of developer challenges (essentially, coding tests), which would help programmer familiarize themselves with some of the different parts of Vista. Responses have included some nifty code listings aimed at showing off short bits of code that make use of XAML and WinFX.

Additional information on so-called "developer challenge" code is available on the Road to WinFX community site.

Where are the games?

In a world where many PC users are heavy secret Solitaire players, curiosity abounds as to what games will come with Windows Vista. Two sites (here and here) have posted screenshots, apparently obtained at Microsoft's September 2005 Professional Developer's Conference, exploring this recreational angle.Along with old stalwarts Minesweeper and Solitaire, Vista is apparently getting an updated chess game featuring a tilted board. Mah Jongg (called "Shanghai Dragons" in the Microsoft screen shot) and a kids' arcade-style game are also included.

Did you know that Microsoft isn't the only entity that's registered 'Windows Vista' as a trademark?

Microsoft is certainly covering all its legal bases when it comes to protecting the Windows Vista name. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Microsoft has registered Windows Vista at least seven times as a trademark. On March 22, 2005, Windows Vista was registered to Microsoft for use as a trademark for computer software and operating system programs. But Microsoft has also registered Windows Vista as a mark for use in online tutorials. "for arranging and conducting trade shows in the field of computer operating systems," and for use in "posters, magnetic boards, memo pads, binders, staplers, paperweights, paper coasters, calendars, notebooks, book covers, sticker books and greeting cards."Surprisingly, Microsoft isn't the only entity to register a Windows Vista trademark. Two individual have also taken a whack, with apparent initially success.

The USPTO's database shows that, on August 6, 2005, John Silva Jr. of Union City, Calif. trademarked Windows Vista as a BIOS, a computer operating system, and to use the term with system boards and processors.

Reached by TechWeb on Thursday, Silva, who said he's a physicist and software engineer, claimed he was first. "I independently came up with Windows Vista for my operating system," he said.

Asked if he was worried about being sued, Silva replied: "What I was hoping to do is negotiate with Microsoft, because I don't think they have any more claim to it [the trademark] than I do."

Separately, a Charles Yona of New York registered Windows Vista as trademark for computer software on July 22, 2005. (Yona's number was unlisted and he couldn't be reached.)0

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