It may not have escaped attention that the long awaited new release of Microsoft Windows has been codenamed Longhorn for some time now. However, no sooner do they give us the startling news that it will officially be called Windows Vista, than they release the first beta of the OS to developers.
What's the beta for?
The drive for this first release is clear. This isn't a showcase of the new features to you and I, this is the starter course for many months of development work from partners and application designers. Many of the new and exciting features which interest the users are missing from this release and there is far more emphasis on getting the under-the-bonnet revamping out there to the people writing the software for it.
Since the main focus of Windows is a GUI (Graphical User Interface, for the one person that didn't know), the new Windows has a new programming model, called WinFX, which is heavily focused on creating standard APIs and techniques for writing and presenting applications. Rather than have every developer do their own thing with regards to the user of dialogue boxes and the like, the idea is to create a unified interface.
With that in mind, the presentation technology codenamed Avalon (now known as the Windows Presentation Foundation) and the new shell integration, AERO, are being pushed very heavily in this beta in order to ensure developers take advantage of them. Microsoft hope, eventually, to get developers to move away from considering the visuals and the operation of applications to be two seperate things and fully integrate the two.
However, I am not a developer and it took me about fifteen minutes to write the above paragraph to ensure I wasn't talking rubbish (and even then I'm not entirely certain what I said). Suffice to say that development release or not, I was prepared to sacrifice one of my machines and take a look at Vista as it stands now. After all, this is going to be on my desktop eventually and preperation is the key.
Over the next few pages, I'll be giving you guys a quick tour of the new Vista desktop. Rest assured that the hardware boys will be getting this up and running to bring you some more in-depth articles over the coming months.