Beta Testers Get First Look at Windows Vista

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-07-27 Print this article Print

Microsoft places the long-awaited first beta for the Windows "Longhorn" client into the hands of beta testers, who will rigorously put Vista through its paces.

The long-awaited first beta for the Windows Vista client release, which was formerly known as Longhorn, officially goes live Wednesday, hitting some 20,000 technical beta testers. Microsoft also Wednesday released the first beta of the as-yet un-renamed Windows "Longhorn" Server to a limited number of participants in the technical beta program, including hardware manufacturers, OEMs, independent hardware vendors, system builders, independent software vendors and developers. The Redmond, Wash., software giant also made Internet Explorer 7 Beta 1 for Windows XP available to IT administrators, developers and enthusiasts for testing and evaluation through the technical beta program and MSDN.
PC Magazine gets its hands on Windows Vista Beta 1. Click here to read its review.
Greg Sullivan, a lead Windows product manager, told eWEEK that Microsoft invited specific developers and IT professionals who manage the technology infrastructure in their organization to participate in the Windows Vista technical beta program. They are expected to rigorously put the software through its paces and report back bugs, incompatibilities and other issues they find. These testers represent a diverse range of companies and industries from small businesses all the way to large enterprises, many of them recommended by Microsoft partners, he said. "This beta is designed for developers and IT professionals, since many of the end-user features will not show up until Beta 2," Sullivan said. "This beta is really about the platform, about the fundamentals; it is a kick-the-tires test release for developers and IT pros." Microsoft is also making the Windows Vista beta available to its MSDN and TechNet subscriber base, which number about 500,000, but they are not official beta testers and so the expectations regarding feedback are lower for them. "While we welcome their feedback, we dont have the same expectations from the MSDN and TechNet side as we do from the technical testers," Sullivan said, adding that while some of Microsofts partners, OEMs and large ISVs will get regular updates of the Windows Vista code, the beta testers will not. While much of the documentation of the technologies in the beta leaked all over the Internet on Tuesday, ahead of the official release announcement, Sullivan said testers should not expect any feature set or other surprises in the code. For more about what to expect in the Vista beta, click here. The beta does, however, contain anti-phishing filter technology that works against an established list of known phishing sites from law enforcement and industry groups. Users will be alerted by an icon that notes suspicious pages. A message will come up to inform them why this page is suspicious or blocked. However, users will be able to access blocked pages if they so choose, Sullivan said. He also confirmed that Microsoft plans to have the final product generally available for the 2006 holiday season. While exact system requirements for the operating system will not be released before the middle of next year, Sullivan stuck to the guidelines previously announced of 512MB or more of RAM, a dedicated graphics card with DirectX 9.0 support, and a modern, Intel Pentium- or AMD Athlon-based PC. The Windows Vista development team has spent a lot of time on security, and the beta will include features like User Account Protection, which lets administrators deploy PCs set up to give end users only the privileges they need to perform their tasks. Windows Service Hardening monitors critical Windows services for abnormal activity in the file system, registry and network that could be used to allow malware to persist on a machine or propagate to other machines, he said. Click here to view David Courseys Vista slideshow. The beta also includes anti-malware features to detect and remove viruses and other types of malicious software from the computer, while data protection technologies reduce the risk that data on laptops or on other computers will be viewed by unauthorized users, even if the laptop is lost or stolen. "Windows Vista supports full-volume encryption to help prevent disk access to files by other operating systems. It also stores encryption keys in a Trusted Platform Model v1.2 chip. The entire system partition is encrypted in both the hibernation file and the user data," Sullivan said. Next Page: Protection for IE 7.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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