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Windows Vista Beta Begins

Beta copies of Longhorn server go out to a separate group of testers.

As expected and right on schedule, Microsoft released the first beta test version of the newly-renamed Windows Vista on Wednesday. The company had promised it would ship by August 3.

According to the Redmond, Washington company, more than 10,000 beta testers will get their copies through the Windows Vista Technical Beta Program, and thousands more will receive them through the Microsoft Developer Network and Microsoft TechNet.

Previously codenamed “Longhorn,” Windows Vista is currently scheduled for release in time for Christmas 2006. Windows Vista will be the first major release of Microsoft’s premier desktop operating system since Windows XP shipped four years ago.

Simultaneously, Microsoft released beta 1 of the long-awaited IE7, which will add tabbed browsing, among other features.

Meanwhile, beta copies of the server edition of Longhorn began going out to a separate group of testers.

“The core foundation and APIs for ‘Longhorn’ Server components are now complete and ready for testing in a private beta program,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to ENT. “The objective of the private beta program is to gather feedback from partners, including OEMs, hardware vendors, system builders, independent software vendors and developers.”

Given Microsoft’s checkered history on security, Windows Vista adds a laundry list of improvements over XP. These include user account protection features to enable applications to run with limited permissions, as well as the ability to monitor for abnormal activity such as malware attacks. Another feature to be added in Vista beta 2 will be a “protected mode” whereby a user can assign herself enough rights to perform most tasks but not enough to enable a virus to be able to elevate itself to the administrator’s role – largely by blocking the ability to edit the Windows Registry or change user profiles.

Windows Vista will also support full-volume encryption to help prevent disk access to files by other operating systems, and will add network access protection to help prevent questioned computers from connecting to a user’s internal network until security criteria are met.

The Windows Vista beta also includes Windows Presentation Foundation, formerly codenamed “Avalon,” and Windows Communication Foundation, which heretofore had been codenamed “Indigo.”

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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