Back in September Microsoft began an incremental release
schedule for Windows Vista Beta called the Community Technical Preview (CTP)
program. The CTP addition to the Windows Vista beta program was designed as an
avenue for Microsoft to officially provide monthly updates to the beta. The
first version, dubbed the September CTP, carried a build number of 5219. Then,
in mid October Microsoft released the October CTP with a build number of 5231.
Unfortunately, the promised November CTP never arrived and there’s some doubt
over whether there will be any sort of December release. (Even so, rumor has it
that the feature-complete Beta 2 is expected sometime in the first quarter of

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What happened? Well, it seems that Microsoft changed its
mind about the monthly CTP program and decided that the next build, number 5259,
would only go to a limited number of testers who belong to an exclusive group
called the Technology Adoption Program (TAP). Fortunately for those of us
excluded from testing the next build, some of the folks in the TAP group were
so excited about the new features in build 5259 that they had to tell somebody
and couldn’t resist posting bits of information and pictures on the Web. In this
edition of the Windows Vista Report, I’ll summarize what I’ve learned about
5259 and provide links to some of the screen shots I discovered.

New security features

As I speculated in the last issue, Windows Vista’s Security
Center stands to gain some real
–the Security Center in Windows Vista build number 5259 is now
sporting an operational version of the Windows AntiSpyware
tool. Other security enhancements include the ability to deal with unwanted
browser helper objects, such as toolbars which often carry pop-up advertising.

User Interface features

The Start button is now round rather than rectangular and
contains only the Windows flag–no text. The Start menu has also been
streamlined by removing icons, reducing text descriptions, and removing
unnecessary text. There’s also a new color scheme tool that will allow you to
change colors as well as alter the “glassiness of windows, the Start menu
and the taskbar.” You can even disable the transparent glass if you so desire.

Other features

  • A
    plethora of new Speech Recognition features are more apparent.
  • As you
    would expect, Internet Explorer 7 is more fully developed.
  • In
    keeping with Microsoft’s recent move to really capitalize on the Windows
    name (ala Windows Live), Outlook Express has been redesigned and renamed
    to Windows Mail.
  • The
    Calendar component of Microsoft Outlook has been slimmed down and built
    into the operating system as Windows Calendar.
  • Windows
    Media Player 11 sports some interesting new features as well as a newly
    designed interface.
  • Since
    one of Windows Vista’s system requirements is a DVD drive, it makes sense
    that Windows Movie Maker has been redesigned now has the ability to make DVDs.

h2>Screen shots

As I mentioned, there are several sites on the Web that are
presenting very illuminating pictures of Windows Vista Build 5259. Here are
some links to those sites:

Upcoming features

If you’re like me, you hate the fact that many of the
updates installed from Windows Update require that you reboot your computer. I
have my computer set to take advantage of the Automatic Updates feature in the
middle of the night and have occasionally discovered that my computer has restarted
and the Logon screen is waiting for me in the morning.

Fortunately, Jim Allchin, the
Co-President of Microsoft’s Platform Products and Services Division recently
revealed that the final feature set in Windows Vista will include a new
technology called the Restart Manager. According to Allchin
Restart Manager is designed to update parts of the operating system or
applications without having to reboot the entire machine.

“If a part of an application, or the operating system
itself, needs to update, the Installer will call the Restart Manager, which
looks to see if it can clear that part of the system so that it can be updated.
If it can do that, it does, and that happens without a reboot.” Allchin went on to explain that when reboots are necessary,
the system will recover without and noticeable effect. “If you have to
reboot, then what happens is that the system, together with the applications,
takes a snapshot of the state: the way things are on the screen at that very
moment, and then it just updates and restarts the application, or in the case
of an operating system update, it will bring the operating system back exactly
where it was.”

This is definitely a feature I’m excited to see in action
once it becomes available.


Now, as I close, it’s important that I point out that that
Windows Vista’s official release date is over a year a way and many of the
features I’ve mentioned in this article could change. As always, if you have
comments or information to share about Windows Vista Build 5259 or the Restart
Manager, please take a moment to drop by the Discussion area and let us hear.