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Review: Vista October CTP Pre-Beta 2

Following on the Windows Vista September CTP (build 5219) Microsoft a couple of weeks ago released the October CTP (Community Technology Preview), build 5231 of Windows Vista, a slightly newer pre-beta-2 release. In addition to several new features in Vista itself, the October CTP is notable for changes to Internet Explorer 7 (see "New Internet Explorer 7 Features Revealed").

Network Center

Perhaps the most prominent new feature in this build of Windows Vista is Network Center, a replacement for My Network Places and Network Neighborhood.

Network Center shows up as a system tray icon. Single-click that icon and an Explorer window opens that's loosely akin to Windows XP Service Pack 2's Wireless Networking Wizard, but with a larger purview. Network Center offers a long list of tools and options for configuring and working with wired and wireless networks, including Network Map, which is designed to show all the nodes on your network, including the switches and access points. There's a Diagnose facility that ostensibly will help you figure out network problems.

(So far Microsoft has provided very limited information about new features showing up for the first time in the CTP builds. One thing the company has said is that Network Center will provide network diagnostics and make it easier to attach and configure network media players, routers, and wireless access points.)

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