March 21, 2006 4:00 AM PST

An inside look at Windows Vista

(continued from previous page)

Navigation and organization

Search
Using Windows file search has long been the operating system equivalent to searching for your car keys in the morning--you have a hazy idea of where they should be, but it'll take longer than you think it should to find them. As anyone who has ever used Windows search will tell you, if you forget the exact name or location of the file or folder you want, count on wasting an intolerable amount of time waiting for Windows to return your search results and then even more time wading through the barely organized result list.

Being able to find your data quickly is almost as important as having the data itself, and Windows' failings in file navigation have left the door wide open for competitors willing to provide a service the OS can't provide. Last year, search giant Google released a desktop search program that offered lightning-quick desktop search results for finding e-mails, files and even Web sites stored in your Web history.

Microsoft improved its file search system in Windows XP by using indexing to speed up searches, but Windows Vista has evolved file navigation and organization to an entirely new level. Finding your documents, programs, and media files is much easier in Windows Vista. Yes, it's difficult to get excited about a new navigation system, but the change is significant since it impacts how we work and play on the desktop every single day.

Microsoft isn't delivering the whole pie just yet, however. Windows Vista was supposed to come with WinFS, a systemwide relational database designed to make file navigation more enjoyable than playing on your Xbox 360. Microsoft had to cut WinFS out of the release in order to meet the launch schedule, but it should be available as a download for both Windows Vista and Windows XP once it's released. A pervasive database lets users and programmers create deep relationships between files. Imagine instead of just finding a folder full of pictures, you could easily find pictures with only you in them, from specific dates, and even certain events--all at the same time. That's what WinFS is supposed to do.

Windows Vista has a new quick-search bar integrated into the start menu and folder-explorer views. The search tool automatically starts returning results as soon as you type in the first letter and narrows down the results as you add more letters. Start typing, and the results will appear and dynamically change on the fly. Did you narrow down your results field to zero? No worries--delete a few letters to rebuild the results list instead of running the search all over again. The search returns everything, including programs, files and folders. Vista even includes the ability to search through data stores, such as e-mail archives, Word documents and a host of other file types. You'll likely still need to wait for regular, full-system searches when trying to find obscure, seldom-used files not included in the indexing service--you can choose to include them, but we imagine that adding needless files could end up slowing down the quick search.

The quick search will highlight your best match as it narrows down the results, and pressing the Enter key will open the best-match file or launch the best-match program. It was confusing at first, since years of using Web search has taught us to press Enter immediately after typing in text to get a results page. Now, pressing Enter automatically opens or launches the best-match selection. We accidentally launched 3DMark06, a benchmarking program, a couple of times while we were using quick search to look for the application folder.

Organization
Windows Vista will also let you save searches as a virtual folder. When you open the folder, it runs the search to populate the folder with items. By running the search in real-time, the virtual folder will be able to catch and display all the new files that meet the search criteria. Virtual folders don't recopy your files, so you can safely delete the virtual folder without losing any data.

Microsoft's new metatag feature will help you better organize your files by allowing you to attach description "tags" to a file to make it easier to find and organize. Metatags provide a magnitude of improvement over the simple file/folder organization scheme that hasn't changed much since the DOS days. You can tag any file with just about any word. For instance, you might have some videos, photos and planning documents all related to multiple projects. Under the traditional Windows file system, all these files might go into one main folder, with subfolders for each different project. Then you have to deal with the conundrum of sharing the same file across multiple projects. Should I maintain one file, or drop copies of the file in each folder? What happens if I make changes?

With the new tagging features of Windows Vista, you can easily give files multiple attributes. When you search for "blue flame experiment," you're sure to get all the files associated with that project on the first try. If you have files that are relevant for more experiments, just tag them to make sure they also show up when you search or create a virtual folder for "red flame experiment." You can use the built-in tags, such as author or rating, or you can use your own custom keywords. As long as your files are tagged correctly, gathering your financial or legal files should take no more than a single search even if the actual files are spread throughout the system.

Explorer
Microsoft has overhauled the Windows Start Menu to make it easier to find and access programs. The left side of the menu displays the most recently used programs, and the All Programs menu selection at the bottom now transforms the entire left menu area into a program-navigation menu, instead of opening an unwieldy navigation menu that expands rightward. Clicking on a folder in the new program-view menu expands it downward to reveal executable programs contained inside, making it easier for those using a notebook touch pad to find and run programs from the Start Menu.

Windows Vista also features explorer shells that are customized to provide more useful displays for specific file types, including media files, such as pictures, music and videos. The explorer will display a preview of the currently selected item in the bottom part of the window, and the toolbar displays actions specific to the file type. The music explorer window, for example, offers the basic window layout, views and file organization menus, but it also offers a Play All option and a Public Settings menu, which lets you set network sharing from right inside the music explorer.

The Windows games explorer features similar customized options to make gaming easier. You no longer need to hunt through the Program Files menu to launch a game, because Windows Vista will have every game you install on the system in the games explorer. If you happen to have a lot of games, the explorer lets you filter them by publisher, developer, rating, last-played date and product version. Additionally, the explorer has a Hardware button in the action bar, which gives you direct access to your hardware system profile in case you need to tweak your system for gaming.

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61 comments

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Add your comment
MS should stick to games only with (Asta-la) Vista
At least then the poor quality of MS products won't kill people, harm busineeses, etc. in mission critical applications?

Does anyone want to be having a heart attack, only to find the MS powered heart monitor is being rebooted...give it a minute...

No Mr Jones, you can't withdrawl money from your account while the main systems are down with today's MS virus...
Posted by booboo1243 (328 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And NASA...
...needs to release the sound stage footage of the moon landings!
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
Don't feed the trolls, kids
Do all you anti-MS (that's the same as "M$" if you don't recognize it) ever get any new material or are you just going to keep spouting the same tired (and entirely irrelevant, for that matter) arguments until you're blue in the face?

You're angry. We get it.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Link Flag
MS should stick to games only with (Asta-la) Vista
At least then the poor quality of MS products won't kill people, harm busineeses, etc. in mission critical applications?

Does anyone want to be having a heart attack, only to find the MS powered heart monitor is being rebooted...give it a minute...

No Mr Jones, you can't withdrawl money from your account while the main systems are down with today's MS virus...
Posted by booboo1243 (328 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And NASA...
...needs to release the sound stage footage of the moon landings!
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
Don't feed the trolls, kids
Do all you anti-MS (that's the same as "M$" if you don't recognize it) ever get any new material or are you just going to keep spouting the same tired (and entirely irrelevant, for that matter) arguments until you're blue in the face?

You're angry. We get it.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Link Flag
No thanks!
Not looking forward to Vista in any way. I read this article because
it mentioned that it would talk about Vista in relation to heavy
gaming, but it seemed more like a paid article from M$. It didn't
mention at -all- the fact that having DirectX as a primary backbone
for the system is going to further decrease the usage of OGL,
making it harder and less cost effective for any devs to try to write
for OSX at the same time. I think I'll keep my XP box.... I'd go back
to 2k if I could.
Posted by Mori-neko (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It'll be some time before you see a game
that uses DirectX10. There's a simple reason for that, since DX10 won't be ported back to XP any game written to use DX10 automatically cuts off that portion of the market. Only when Vista and it's successors have a sizable portion of the market will DX10 games show up in anything other than "demonstrators" from MS.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
No thanks!
Not looking forward to Vista in any way. I read this article because
it mentioned that it would talk about Vista in relation to heavy
gaming, but it seemed more like a paid article from M$. It didn't
mention at -all- the fact that having DirectX as a primary backbone
for the system is going to further decrease the usage of OGL,
making it harder and less cost effective for any devs to try to write
for OSX at the same time. I think I'll keep my XP box.... I'd go back
to 2k if I could.
Posted by Mori-neko (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It'll be some time before you see a game
that uses DirectX10. There's a simple reason for that, since DX10 won't be ported back to XP any game written to use DX10 automatically cuts off that portion of the market. Only when Vista and it's successors have a sizable portion of the market will DX10 games show up in anything other than "demonstrators" from MS.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Nifty Visual Features
... are pretty much the first thing to turn off after a fresh install of WinXP, aren't they?
Sure it looks neat the first couple of times but gets old rather fast.
In my opinion they should spent less time working on those visual effects but instead on Windows Vista SP1
Posted by MaxRock17 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nifty Visual Features
... are pretty much the first thing to turn off after a fresh install of WinXP, aren't they?
Sure it looks neat the first couple of times but gets old rather fast.
In my opinion they should spent less time working on those visual effects but instead on Windows Vista SP1
Posted by MaxRock17 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Has Windows Bought into Strong DRM
I have been told Vista has very strong DRM. DRM is a problem for my clients now and I cannot recomend a switch fron XP pro if Microsoft has bought into these Hollywood intervention's into fair use of copywrited materals. Microsoft has been very coy on this subject. DRM can make a computer very user unfriendly. My clients are leaning to open source. I think Microsoft will have a hard sell if the DRM restrictions are strong.
Posted by bigjtk (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is one area...
That I am worried about as well. I am afraid that Vista is going to be a Police OS and try to arrest anything it deames in appropriate.

I don't know, if it is heavy handed like I am sure Hollywood and the Recording Industry would like it may be a junk OS right out of the gate.

Time will tell. I also like that the article noted that it was supposed to ship at the end of the year when everything else they have done said middle of 2006. It seems things keep slipping. I just don't understand why 6 years wasn't enough to get it out on time and with ALL of the features Microsoft promised.

Robert
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Link Flag
DRM is anti-consumer.
DRM is there to limit and restict the general public. It has no function that consumers want but yet we have to pay added on costs for its inclusion in the products that use it. MS must feel embarrassed by its inclusion in Vista. MS realise that DRM does not sell any type of product and that is why they don't want to highlight the DRM limitations of Vista
Posted by Frogfart (3 comments )
Link Flag
Has Windows Bought into Strong DRM
I have been told Vista has very strong DRM. DRM is a problem for my clients now and I cannot recomend a switch fron XP pro if Microsoft has bought into these Hollywood intervention's into fair use of copywrited materals. Microsoft has been very coy on this subject. DRM can make a computer very user unfriendly. My clients are leaning to open source. I think Microsoft will have a hard sell if the DRM restrictions are strong.
Posted by bigjtk (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is one area...
That I am worried about as well. I am afraid that Vista is going to be a Police OS and try to arrest anything it deames in appropriate.

I don't know, if it is heavy handed like I am sure Hollywood and the Recording Industry would like it may be a junk OS right out of the gate.

Time will tell. I also like that the article noted that it was supposed to ship at the end of the year when everything else they have done said middle of 2006. It seems things keep slipping. I just don't understand why 6 years wasn't enough to get it out on time and with ALL of the features Microsoft promised.

Robert
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Link Flag
DRM is anti-consumer.
DRM is there to limit and restict the general public. It has no function that consumers want but yet we have to pay added on costs for its inclusion in the products that use it. MS must feel embarrassed by its inclusion in Vista. MS realise that DRM does not sell any type of product and that is why they don't want to highlight the DRM limitations of Vista
Posted by Frogfart (3 comments )
Link Flag
Love the features of VISTA
These features have been working great on my $500 Mac Mini for six months now. And I didn't even need to purchase a $400 video card to make them work great. VISTA is going to be awesome.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree......
Stay put with your Mac-Mini and OSX, until you can aford a REAL operating system like VISTA...., then you can switch over and start enjoying what millions of XP users are looking forward to ...:)
Posted by sokorie (18 comments )
Link Flag
Love the features of VISTA
These features have been working great on my $500 Mac Mini for six months now. And I didn't even need to purchase a $400 video card to make them work great. VISTA is going to be awesome.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree......
Stay put with your Mac-Mini and OSX, until you can aford a REAL operating system like VISTA...., then you can switch over and start enjoying what millions of XP users are looking forward to ...:)
Posted by sokorie (18 comments )
Link Flag
No mention of all the new DRM
Will I be able to watch DVD's? Will I be able to copy a DVD? Will I be able to play or copy MP3's?
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not if
you buy the home version ya wont....heheheh
Posted by theoscnet (36 comments )
Link Flag
No mention of all the new DRM
Will I be able to watch DVD's? Will I be able to copy a DVD? Will I be able to play or copy MP3's?
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not if
you buy the home version ya wont....heheheh
Posted by theoscnet (36 comments )
Link Flag
My concerns...
I'm not completely anti Vista. I'm not even completely anti Microsoft for that matter. But I do have legitimate questions about Vista that have yet to be answered by any of the numerous articles I've read about it.

How bad is the DRM in this OS going to be? I know this has been asked in previous comments, but I'm just as curious to know, and it seems like all these articles about it either completely skip the issue or dodge around it. What about the obvious *and not so obvious* problems I see possibly arising from Vista's "security" features? Again, all the articles I've read about Vista glorify and detail the security of it, without even beginning to explore the ways it could be compromised. How about those of us that DON'T want our OS to use much of our system resources? This article mentioned that with the Aero theme turned off, the OS didn't seem as snappy - which gives me reason to suspect that the Aero theme never gets turned off, just skinned over. What about system stability? I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience an application crashing in XP only to take the entire system down with it, requiring a cold shut down.

So I'm just going to wait and see what the users have to say about it when Vista comes out, the hype has died down, and the nasties have had their time to play.
Posted by vixenk (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My concerns...
I'm not completely anti Vista. I'm not even completely anti Microsoft for that matter. But I do have legitimate questions about Vista that have yet to be answered by any of the numerous articles I've read about it.

How bad is the DRM in this OS going to be? I know this has been asked in previous comments, but I'm just as curious to know, and it seems like all these articles about it either completely skip the issue or dodge around it. What about the obvious *and not so obvious* problems I see possibly arising from Vista's "security" features? Again, all the articles I've read about Vista glorify and detail the security of it, without even beginning to explore the ways it could be compromised. How about those of us that DON'T want our OS to use much of our system resources? This article mentioned that with the Aero theme turned off, the OS didn't seem as snappy - which gives me reason to suspect that the Aero theme never gets turned off, just skinned over. What about system stability? I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience an application crashing in XP only to take the entire system down with it, requiring a cold shut down.

So I'm just going to wait and see what the users have to say about it when Vista comes out, the hype has died down, and the nasties have had their time to play.
Posted by vixenk (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ever used a mac?
If you have, you would know that 98% of these features have been
avaliable for a few years now, without all of the security headaches
in OS X. How can you write a story like this and not put it into the
context of other operating systems?
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I wish...
You Mac people has saying Mac has had this or Mac has had that. When will you learn that we Windows users don't give a flying snowballs worth of spit what your Mac has or doesn't have.

Just so you know Apple is just as bad a monopoly as Microsoft. The difference is Apple doesn't have enough users for the government to fool with. You can only buy Mac's from Apple. They are constantly comeing out with programs that cause other companies to stop developing similar ones (Adobe is one such company). iTunes only works on iPods. So can the bull we don't give a flying flip.

Robert
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Link Flag
yeah
i agree , the mac does all vista does and more and has done it
for a long time ,



g4 dualcore will finally give a comparison (with bootcamp) and
show this hopefully


rok on mac
Posted by olegnep (23 comments )
Link Flag
Ever used a mac?
If you have, you would know that 98% of these features have been
avaliable for a few years now, without all of the security headaches
in OS X. How can you write a story like this and not put it into the
context of other operating systems?
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I wish...
You Mac people has saying Mac has had this or Mac has had that. When will you learn that we Windows users don't give a flying snowballs worth of spit what your Mac has or doesn't have.

Just so you know Apple is just as bad a monopoly as Microsoft. The difference is Apple doesn't have enough users for the government to fool with. You can only buy Mac's from Apple. They are constantly comeing out with programs that cause other companies to stop developing similar ones (Adobe is one such company). iTunes only works on iPods. So can the bull we don't give a flying flip.

Robert
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Link Flag
yeah
i agree , the mac does all vista does and more and has done it
for a long time ,



g4 dualcore will finally give a comparison (with bootcamp) and
show this hopefully


rok on mac
Posted by olegnep (23 comments )
Link Flag
Hillarious
Wow, you need a kick-butt graphics card just to run Vista in it's normal setting?!?!? Awesome job MS!! I still have my 300MHz Mac running OS X without a fancy graphics card. I love it!! I think it's funny that in order for PeeCs to run properly you have to turn off all the eye candy or just simply UPGRADE. I think the only thing interesting in their "new" look is the 3D roladex windowing thing.
Posted by theoscnet (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hillarious
Wow, you need a kick-butt graphics card just to run Vista in it's normal setting?!?!? Awesome job MS!! I still have my 300MHz Mac running OS X without a fancy graphics card. I love it!! I think it's funny that in order for PeeCs to run properly you have to turn off all the eye candy or just simply UPGRADE. I think the only thing interesting in their "new" look is the 3D roladex windowing thing.
Posted by theoscnet (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes we've all used Macs, and we know they suck
Which is why the Aero interface is a piece of s--t. Just designed for morons who want "style" over functionality.
Posted by georgegliddy (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
? functionality ?
if by " functionality" you mean viruses

oh and if "the Aero interface is a piece of s--t" then why is vista
trying to copy it

hmmmmmm
Posted by olegnep (23 comments )
Link Flag
Yes we've all used Macs, and we know they suck
Which is why the Aero interface is a piece of s--t. Just designed for morons who want "style" over functionality.
Posted by georgegliddy (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
? functionality ?
if by " functionality" you mean viruses

oh and if "the Aero interface is a piece of s--t" then why is vista
trying to copy it

hmmmmmm
Posted by olegnep (23 comments )
Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by georgegliddy (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
re: Mac "jackasses" [sic]
re: << Look you Mac jackasses, .... >

My, such hatred and vitriol! It never ceases to amaze me how
much some of the most rabid Windoze fanbois (yes, YOU,
George) despise those Mac users. Please explain why you have
such hatred for them.

I know that some of them-- sometimes-- can be a little
annoying with their smugness, etc. But have you ever
considered that they are mostly being defensive. The reason
they are defensive is that they consider the Mac OS to be vastly
superior to any Windoze version and yet that fact is not
recognized by the general computer-buying public (both
corporate and consumer.) The reasons for this include a highly
effective marketing strategy by MS, a lack of that from Apple,
corporate commodity buying habits, and many more. Ah, but I
digress...

Yet, even given the above-- is that a cause for such bitterness?
Gee, maybe it's Windoze that has made you bitter...
Posted by keyboard55 (11 comments )
Link Flag
Ditto Windows Jackass
I was thinking about pointing out that you could see pretty much
the same silliness on a six-month-old Mac, but you'd have to
get the owner to reset it to its defaults. My mother - she'll be 90
in July - saw all that genie-effect stuff and the rotating cubes
and things and asked me if I couldn't make it go away ...
PLEASE???

There's been a lot of restraint in Windows upgrades these past
few years. Which is too bad because I understand the newer stuff
is worth the pain and cost of the upgrade. Much less of the
traditional BSoD and such. If there weren't a gazillion script
kiddies all looking for ways to zombie your systems for a DoS
attack on Fox News or to flood the nation with more spam, we
Mac types wouldn't have much to feel smug about these days.
Posted by dlmeyer (6 comments )
Link Flag
Can't Wait it looks great!!!
There are so many new and neat features that I cant wait to get my hands on and check them out.

It really is a big step forward, just a shame that it has taken this long. Cheers and congrats on a great feature set.
Posted by (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can't Wait it looks great!!!
There are so many new and neat features that I cant wait to get my hands on and check them out.

It really is a big step forward, just a shame that it has taken this long. Cheers and congrats on a great feature set.
Posted by (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gaming?
I noticed the article made a big deal about DX 10 and how great it would be for gaming but I've heard no mention of anyone actually trying to play a game on this power hog. With all those resources being consumed by the OS will EQ II be playable at all?
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gaming?
I noticed the article made a big deal about DX 10 and how great it would be for gaming but I've heard no mention of anyone actually trying to play a game on this power hog. With all those resources being consumed by the OS will EQ II be playable at all?
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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