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By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-02-11 Print this article Print

Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler said consumers will not immediately upgrade their systems to Vista. "However, its now clear that smart application developers and technology product marketers will build killer applications using Vistas advanced graphics and communications technology," Schadler said.

The New York Times Times Reader, a Vista-based beta application, is one such application, he said. "Its the visuals and the underlying capabilities made manifest in killer applications that will convince consumers to upgrade," Schadler said. "It took only one application to convince me: the Times Reader."

Yahoo, of Sunnyvale, Calif., is building a new version of its Yahoo Messenger real-time communications service, designed for Vista. And the team used the WPF framework to build dynamic features on top of the core communications features in Vista, officials said. The service will be optimized for Vista and will feature a cinematic user interface providing rich animations and visual design, officials said.

Matthew Skyrm, director of product management for Yahoo Messenger, said Yahoo wanted immersion in the Vista technology and decided to base its service on WPF. The company then contracted with Frog Design, a Palo Alto, Calif., design consultancy, to help with the design of Yahoo Messenger for Vista.

"We have quite a bit of experience with WPF," said Mark Ligameri, executive creative director at Frog Design. Ligameri said Frog Design also has "developers who are more along the lines of designers" working on the Yahoo service for Vista and adding interactivity and dynamic visuals. Working alongside Yahoos developers, Frog Design is prototyping designs using WPF, he said.

Josh Jacobson, senior product manager for Yahoo Messenger, said Vista and WPF "set the bar pretty high for user experience."

In addition, WPF helps facilitate a better working relationship between developers and designers, provides resolution independence, enables smooth transitions for animations, and provides improved 3-D capabilities.

Roger Sanborn, co-founder and CTO of 90 Degree Software, in Vancouver, British Columbia, said, "We saw that the introduction of WPF and WCF not only would increase our productivity in developing our application, it also provided us with technologies we would have otherwise needed to develop ourselves. It was mainly these two reasons that caused us to choose developing on Windows Vista and leveraging the .Net 3.0 Framework."

Will a 2-year-old, but high-end, workstation run Vista? Wayne Rash finds out when he upgrades his old computer. Read about it here. Sanborn said one of the most powerful features of WPF is that it separates the visual layout from the code behind it. "We have found that using the Extensible Application Markup Language [XAML] has helped us not only increase our overall productivity in writing UIs, it also has helped us in being able to adapt the UI very quickly based on the feedback we receive from users," Sanborn said.

90 Degrees Radius reporting system has been certified for Vista and also takes advantage of WCF, particularly its peer networking capability.

Jim Arrowood, an enterprise architect with Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, in Tulsa, Okla., said, "One major benefit gained out of the box from Windows Communication Foundation for Dollar Thrifty was the ability to offer different Web service endpoints built upon a single code base." Arrowood is working on a new car rental system for Dollar Rent A Car and Thrifty Car Rental that will be based on Vista.

Developers can use the existing Microsoft tool set, Visual Studio 2005, to build applications for Vista, Allchin said. The next major revision of the tools platform, code-named Orcas, will improve development for Vista, but "you can use whats available today," Allchin said.

And Microsoft recently upgraded the tools with a service pack. The company released Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 at the end of 2006. "Well also be doing a Vista refresh for that service pack, and that will be coming out this quarter," said Jay Roxe, lead product manager in Microsofts developer division.

In addition to providing a more graphical environment, Vista helps developers build more secure applications, Allchin said. With Vista, "our tools are much better, our guidance is phenomenally better and Vista by its very design will encourage developers to follow a set of methodologies that will end up with a more secure application," he said.

Jeffrey Richter, a consultant and co-founder of Wintellect, in Knoxville, Tenn., said he wouldnt say the application is more secure with Vista, but that "the user is better protected from rogue applications when the user is running Vista as compared to previous versions of Windows."

"Developers are the first on Vista, and with the new UAC [User Account Control] security, they will see where they are improperly relying on administrator privileges in their code. In fixing those issues so their applications run under Vista, they will also be making their application more likely to run on previous operating systems when users are running as non-admins. As a longtime least-privileges zealot, this will definitely help everyone, especially IT departments," said John Robbins, another Wintellect consultant and co-founder.

Mike Rogers, product unit manager for terminal emulation at Attachmate, in Seattle, said, "When you look at all of the capabilities added in Windows Vista, the feature set certainly targets security and end-user productivity." Attachmates Reflection 2007 and Extra X-treme v9 support Vista. "Vista enables our application to run in a secure environment that is governed and protected by the operating system itself," Rogers said.

Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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