Microsoft Releases Vista Preview

Microsoft releases December CTP of Windows Vista, but execs decline to say which features need to be added before the code is feature-complete in early 2006.

December 20, 2005

3 Min Read
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Microsoft Monday reached another minor milestone in the run-up to its next generation Windows client -- the release of its third Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Windows Vista.

As the company races to make the code feature complete by year's end, Microsoft executives said the December CTP will be available on MSDN and TechNet later Monday.

The December CTP features an updated "Aero" user interface with enhanced translucent windows and enhanced Start Menu as well as an updated Media Center user interface with remote control features and Media Player 11.

The integrated media center capabilities in Windows Vista will be heavily touted by Microsoft at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early next year.

Shanen Boettcher, a director in the Windows client team at Microsoft, said the company is on track to finish a feature complete version of the code by the end of the year but he declined to say which features are missing from the December CTP.Reiterating what Microsoft executives said last month, executives on Monday said a feature complete version will be available for testing in early 2006. Beta 2 is expected for release in early 2006.

Microsoft chose to emphasize the new features in December's CTP including the enhanced user interfaces and new features for security, performance and mobility.

"It's a big step forward for us. It’s not done yet but you'll see some great advances," Boettcher said about the December CTP.

The December CTP, for example, includes a volume encryption technology for laptops called Bitlocker that uses Secure Startup and Trusted Platform Module 1.2 security to secure data on lost or stolen laptops. The Bitlocker icon will be available from the Control Panel, Microsoft said.

The Vista code now integrates the company's antispyware technology called Windows Defender and an enhanced set of parental controls.Additionally, Microsoft integrated in the CTP a tool that will allow IT users to use group policy to control the use of storage devices like USB devices. This will prevent unauthorized data from being distributed via these devices.

Microsoft also added to the December CTP several features to enhance performance and save power, including automatic rollover of Standby to Hiberante mode after a set period of time, a sleep mode default setting and a single button that turns computers on and off much faster.

Some key feaures have been integrated into the code, such as Virtual Folders, but whether or not code will be feature complete within weeks is unclear.

In a meeting with CRN last April, Microsoft group vice president of platforms Jim Allchin demonstrated Virtual Folder, which allows users to store, index, search and retrieve graphical representations of related Word, PowerPoint, Internet and Excel data files that can be stacked, stored and accessed for a single graphical folder.

Allchin also promised that Vista would have a simplified tool to help IT professionals and partners manage corporate images and advanced remote assistance for help desks.The Vista code also promises to feature peer-to-peer computing, suppport for IPv6 and a mobile synchronization manager for synchronizing corporate data with laptops and mobile devices.

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