December 19, 2005 1:17 PM PST

Microsoft launches updated Vista preview

Microsoft on Monday released another preview version of Windows Vista, adding a number of security features, as well as performance and user interface functions.

Monday's release is the expected third Community Technology Preview (CTP) version of Vista, the successor to Windows XP due by the end of 2006. The preview releases allow Microsoft to gather feedback on the new operating system more quickly than it could using only a traditional beta program, the company said.

"We're getting more frequent and better feedback than we have ever gotten before in any previous release of Windows, and it is making the product much better," Shanen Boettcher, senior director in Microsoft's Windows Client group, said during a conference call with media on Monday.

The latest test version is being made available to about half a million people, including a pool of technical testers as well as members of Microsoft's MSDN and TechNet developer programs.

Testers will see a number of new features in the update, several of which are on the security front:

•  Windows Defender, an update to Windows AntiSpyware, is designed to protect Windows PCs against spyware, rootkits and other threats. Windows Defender has improved detection and removal capabilities as well as a new user interface which, according to Microsoft, is simpler and fits better with Windows Vista.

•  BitLocker Drive Encryption is meant to protect data on computers when lost or stolen. The full disk encryption feature is designed to work with a chip called the Trusted Platform Module, or TPM, which offers protected storage of encryption keys, passwords and digital certificates.

•  Tighter control over removable storage devices lets system administrators centrally block the installation of, for example, USB flash drives and external hard drives. This feature is designed to help prevent corporate intellectual property or sensitive data from being compromised or stolen.

•  Parental controls designed to let parents limit and monitor computer usage, including setting time limits, restricting Web sites that can be visited and generating reports on computer usage.

Other security related updates include an enhanced firewall and added security in Internet Explorer to protect against misuse of domain names with international characters in phishing scams.

Other than security, the new Vista preview release promises enhancements in performance. For example, USB flash memory drives can be used as additional memory for Windows SuperFetch, a new feature in Vista that caches often-used information, making it accessible faster, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft has also updated the Vista user interface, adding transparent windows, smoother transitions and a redesigned start menu, the company said.

The new preview release also includes an update to Windows Media Player and gives a peek at the successor to Windows XP Media Center Edition with the new Windows Media Center. Microsoft will share more details of Vista's media features at January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company said.

The latest Vista preview doesn't include all of the features that Microsoft has planned for the Windows XP successor, Boettcher said.

"We're on a path to be code complete by the end of 2005, so we will see that likely in the next release of the CTP," Boettcher said. Microsoft anticipates that the next preview release will be early next year, he said.

Boettcher would not detail which features Microsoft has yet to add to Vista.

Along with the updated preview of Windows Vista, Microsoft on Monday sent out an updated version of its next major Windows Server release to testers. The updated Windows Server Longhorn code is available only to participants in a private beta test program and not available via MSDN or TechNet, Microsoft said. To date, the first and only public build of the server operating system was distributed in September at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference.

31 comments

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Might buy it
if it was based on the Linux kernel.
I can see all those viruses and worms just waiting for Vista as a new host.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please Reason
I'm *very sure* u can *easily* enter my "My Windows XP SP 2" system, which was not based on Linux kernel, over the network! Can't you?

one more thing. pls, do me one favour (if you're using linux):
* remove your root password; and
* give me your ip address

can i hear u say you can't do that? Ooooh, that is how most Windows XP Systems beasts are running! Don't you think securing an OS by default is very essential?
Posted by folsco (55 comments )
Link Flag
great...another attempt at making lives difficult
"Tighter control over removable storage devices lets system
administrators centrally block the installation of, for example,
USB flash drives and external hard drives. This feature is
designed to help prevent corporate intellectual property or
sensitive data from being compromised or stolen."

Glad I use a Mac is all I can say. Shouldn't an admin be able to
lock down directories that could be copied onto an iPod
(because isn't that what they're really locking out?) so they're not
easily lifted? Isn't this kind of draconian? This really seems like M
$s way of getting back at Apple, since they can't compete on
innovation.
Posted by muntz (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is for the protection of data in sensitive environments
This is not designed to make your life more difficult, it is designed to provide increased security in sensitive environments (where confidentiality must be controlled) where there is concern that sensitive data can be copied onto portable storage.

Nothing to do with iPods or innovation - you will see plenty of innovation elsewhere in Vista.

I rate your post at 1 out of 10 for intelligence and understanding of the issues.
Posted by cturkin (59 comments )
Link Flag
Can I get you?
"Glad I use a Mac . . .. Shouldn't an admin be able to lock down directories that could be copied . . . so they're not easily lifted? This really seems like M$s way . . ., since they can't compete on innovation."

Which innovation are you talking about? ability to lock down folders from other unauthorized users? or what? Do you know about NTFS ACL?

I can likewise do this on my windows machine; but, we need something more revolutionary than this! This is a very nice try from M$! Let's wait and see how it works out.
Posted by folsco (55 comments )
Link Flag
Don't get the point
This isn't about Apple.

Locking down a directory disables a user from using that directory, which is already doable in Win2K, XP, and Win2K3 Server environment.

The objective is not to allow a non-admin user to either introduce new software or take data from his/her company-owned machine. Email can be used to this end, but that has its own paper trail.

Locking down a corporate system involves disabling the 3.5 floppy, and the DVD/CD drives. USB was always able to circumvent this data transference lockdown because it always installs. It remains a huge security oversite by MS.
Posted by junkmarc (9 comments )
Link Flag
However you look at it...
..it's still bloatware, lol, what's the point of an OS that takes more power to run than the games I play?
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Reply Link Flag
explain
>>an OS that takes more power to run than the games I play?

On what do you base this?? What are you playing? Solitare??
Posted by cturkin (59 comments )
Link Flag
bloatware
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/isuzu_vehicross_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/isuzu_vehicross_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Might Buy It
Well, I've never had any serious issues with any version of Windows except for Windows ME. I will be using Vista when it launches because it is going to be a step forward and the features are definitely cool. I don't understand why MAC and Linux users enjoy using a platform with such a limited range of software available to it (compared to the Windows Platform).
Posted by eddygk (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
lack of software?
"I don't understand why MAC and Linux users enjoy using a
platform with such a limited range of software available to it
(compared to the Windows Platform)."

I am a Mac user and I am able to find any software I need to do my
work. Please, get a little bit more informed about what is going on
the Mac platform before you post comments like this one.
Posted by pfelix (5 comments )
Link Flag
Quality Not Quantity
The relative lack of software for the Mac (I can't speak for Linux)
was an initial concern of mine when I switched but I've really not
had any trouble. The standard iLife software to begin with is
absolutely fabulous, particularly when it comes free with any
Mac product. Beyond this there is generally plenty of choice
with all the bases covered with the big products (Office,
Photoshop, etc.). I've developed a very nice library of software
over the past couple of years and have not had any trouble in
finding quality software to do what I need. This is one of the
reasons why, when my current laptop needs to be replaced next
year, I'll buy another Mac.

To be honest, until you try it it is hard to explain WHY I prefer
Apple but it basically comes down to far fewer annoyances. It
just 'fits' better with what I want to do and how I want to do it.
Posted by kelmon (1445 comments )
Link Flag
Software availability......
... right from the start, the PC and DOS were so simple minded
that virtually every nerd in the world could write software, and
many of them did. There used to be hundreds of thousands of
'private' software packages cluttering the market. Some of the
nerds were better than others, Ellison for example, and fortunes
were made.

Then Windows came along and many nerds couldn't handle the
load. But the momentum created the big software houses, plus
of course, the large number of Mac programs which were ported
to the PC (Adobe, Microsoft Word, Macromedia, Borland, etc)

So yes, the PC does have an abundance of program options. It
also gets a basically adequate rating in the program quality area.
but if you focus on the quality programs, the PC box isn't that
full. If you want froth, there is no end.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Software availability......
... right from the start, the PC and DOS were so simple minded
that virtually every nerd in the world could write software, and
many of them did. There used to be hundreds of thousands of
'private' software packages cluttering the market. Some of the
nerds were better than others, Ellison for example, and fortunes
were made.

Then Windows came along and many nerds couldn't handle the
load. But the momentum created the big software houses, plus
of course, the large number of Mac programs which were ported
to the PC (Adobe, Microsoft Word, Macromedia, Borland, etc)

So yes, the PC does have an abundance of program options. It
also gets a basically adequate rating in the program quality area.
but if you focus on the quality programs, the PC box isn't that
full. If you want froth, there is no end.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Still looking....
.... for a significant reason to even consider upgrading to Vista.
XP runs fine now, and does exactly what I want it to do. Vista so
far appears to be mostly smoke, while requiring essentially new
computers. My PC's are quite adequate, my copies of XP are
quite adequate, the capabilities of the PC's and software are
quite adequate.

I've even got W2K PC's which didn't need to be upgraded to XP.

Nothing's broke, and there's no need to fix anything. There's
definitely no need to spend the rather large quantity of cash any
fix might require.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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