Microsoft Handing Out Vista CTP at PDC, More CTPs on the Way
- By Scott Bekker
Microsoft is distributing a Community Technology Preview of Windows Vista to attendees at its Professional Developers Conference 2005 in Los Angeles this week.
The September Vista CTP, loaded with new features, comes fast on the heels of Windows Vista Beta 1, which Microsoft released in late July. But get used to the fast pace, Microsoft says. The company plans to release CTPs on a monthly basis. Microsoft already has an October Vista CTP in the works.
In addition to the PDC audience, Microsoft is distributing the Vista September CTP to participants in the Windows Vista Technical Beta Program, to MSDN subscribers and to TechNet subscribers. The CTP is designed for the same audience as Beta 1 -- developers, IT administrators and Windows enthusiasts.
The current group of CTPs are considered part of the Beta 2 "tree," and the features being built into them will be part of Beta 2, which is supposed to be the first major beta aimed at end users. Microsoft group vice president for platforms Jim Allchin said Tuesday that Microsoft remains on track to deliver the final version of Windows Vista in late 2006.
Several features make their debut in the September CTP.
User Account Protection -- This feature existed in Beta 1, and is an important security improvement that allows users to run as standard users most of the time, and prompts them for administrative credentials only when initiating changes to the system. What's new in the CTP is that the feature is on by default to encourage developers to begin planning for the feature.
SuperFetch -- The utility for proactively loading all or most of customers' most-often used applications and files into unallocated system memory before they are needed is supposed to improve application launch times. Allchin demonstrated the functionality, which he talked about at PDC 2003, and showed how SuperFetch will take advantage of USB memory sticks for additional speed.
SideShow -- Microsoft has renamed Auxiliary Displays as SideShow. The features allow for small, extra displays on laptops that are similar to the exterior displays on cell phones. Microsoft delivered APIs, documentation and tools for auxiliary displays in Beta 1. In addition to the new name, the September CTP also gives users more control over which mini-applications, or "gadgets," appear in the SideShow.
Peer-to-peer collaboration -- Code-named "Meeting Space," the technology is aimed at making face-to-face group meetings more effective.
"Flip" and "Flip 3D" -- the Flip control lets users see and select from a row of live thumbnails for open applications and documents on the desktop. The 3D version arranges open windows in a three-dimensional, stacked view.
An updated Taskbar -- The "live" thumbnail functionality is being extended to the Taskbar to give users another avenue for managing open apps.
Search -- Ubiquitous desktop search was a prominent feature of Vista Beta 1. The September CTP brings third-party extensibility, the ability to pass desktop search terms through an Internet search engine and optimization for distributed data scenarios.
Fast on-off -- Microsoft is promising that a typical Windows Vista-based PC will turn on or off in 2-3 seconds. The company also added a one-click button to initiate the default Sleep/off.
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.