Last week I promised that I’d take a look at the new version of Windows that is currently under development, Windows Vista. Not wanting to disappoint, I will today be taking a look at the latest preview build (5231) that was released to beta testers a few days ago. Windows Vista (formally codenamed ‘Longhorn’) was originally envisioned as a minor upgrade to Windows XP designed more as a stopgap although as work progressed on the Operating System it took the shape of an all encompassing major upgrade. Let us take a look at some of the new features this Operating System will offer although please do bear in mind that the finished version is over a year away yet so obviously features are subject to change.
New look – Windows new look and feel is known as “Aero” which on suitably equipped machines will use the PC’s 3D accelerator to create a glass effect that will make the Windows visual experience deeper and more engaging. A downside to this effect is that it will require some pretty beefy hardware to create although on less powerful machines you will be able to go back to the classic Windows look
Security – This is being touted as the big improvement over previous versions of Windows and Microsoft is confident that they have truly got it right this time around. Windows XP if you will remember was riddled with massive security vulnerabilities when it first released and it took the release of two service packs to get it up to anywhere near a decent standard. Obviously there is plenty happening behind the scenes to protect you from security vulnerabilities but since the majority won’t be aware of any of this background work we should focus on the things that will make a difference in the way you use the computer day to day. Notable features include a firewall that will protect against unauthorised outbound activity in addition to the current ability to protect against inbound connections, parents will be able to set up parental controls to restrict what their children access and the OS should be able to prevent the installation of malicious software by using restricted access user accounts for day to day activities. The in-built e-mail client will provide anti-spam facilities as standard and Microsoft is planning to offer an anti-virus and anti-spyware subscription service although I would have personally liked to have seen this included as standard in the OS.
Internet Explorer – Windows Vista will include Internet Explorer 7 which is the replacement for the now four year old Internet Explorer 6. Although IE7 will be available for Windows XP eventually will be standard in Vista. As Microsoft is facing heavy competition from third party alternatives such as “Firefox” we should expect IE7 to be vast improvement although I think it is unlikely that they will think up anything original but just rip the best bits out of Firefox. For example, IE7 will support tabbed browsing and a built in RSS reader both of which Firefox has always included from the start. Security is again paramount in the new version of IE as it will include a protected mode to prevents Spyware and Malicious software from easily entering your system as well as a “phishing filter” which will protect you from fraudulent websites.
To summerise the new version of Windows looks as though it could be a worthy upgrade to the current Windows XP although we’ll have to wait until December 2006 to see everything that Microsoft has up their sleeves. Of course, there’s a lot more that I’d love to tell you about but unfortunately it’s difficult to cover an entirely new release of Windows in a 600 word article. For more information straight from the horses mouth visit www.microsoft.com/windowsvista
Chris Holgate writes a weekly article of all things tech related. He is a director and copyrighter of the online computer consumables business Refresh Cartridges who sell cheap ink cartridges, toner cartridges, computer hardware and other computer consumables online. An archive of his work can be found at www.computerarticles.co.uk.