Also in this latest build is the ability to use group policy to control storage devices like USB Flash drives, which gives administrators a centralized way to control and block the use of these devices with their machine, Boettcher said. Internet Explorer will also now have a feature that allows the detection, across international languages, of characters in the URL that are not in that specific language.The December CTP, which shipped Monday and would also be available via MSDN later in the day, also brought changes to the Vista User Interface with this build, showing greater transparency and animation, with even more to come going forward. "You will see a lot of progress towards the Aero user interface, from transparent glass to across the media center interface as well as to the Media Player 11." Robert McLaws, president of Interscape Technologies, said he expects the Vista user interface changes in the December CTP to garner the most attention among testers. He also said the new Windows Defender anti-spyware functionality "is really slick" in the way that it applies multiple changes all at once. McLaws biggest question, going forward, however, is how Microsoft plans to incorporate tester feedback into future Vista builds. "As they [Microsoft] are freight-training toward feature-complete, what will happen when testers suggest new features? Will they do bug fixes only?" McLaws asked. This is the third Windows Vista CTP released so far, and the program is resulting in the Windows team getting better and more feedback than for any other Windows build. Microsoft is looking forward to getting more feedback on this CTP build as well as on the feature complete product, which will be ready by the end of this year and will be released early next year to testers as the next CTP build. But Boettcher declined to say what features were not yet included in the CTP build. On the performance and reliability front, this CTP build would bring the single on/off button for Vista, with the default mode being a sleep mode that would have a quick response time when turned back on. Also included in this latest build is Super Cache, an algorithm that speeds up individual uses of the machine by keeping those functions most used in a cache. Users will now also be able to use extended memory for this in Vista, such as with a USB Flash drive, "which will be a great way to leverage the performance of your PC," he said. eWEEK first reported on this new feature in September. Jim Allchin, Microsofts then group vice president of platforms, told eWEEK in an interview at the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles about a feature known as Windows SuperFetch, which enhanced the virtual memory system and optimized the system based on its user history. Click here to read more from the interview with Allchin. Vista will allow memory to be automatically added to the system when a device like a USB flash memory extension is inserted. The data will not be lost if the stick is removed, Allchin said, adding that users will get better performance if there is a USB 2.0 connection to the flash versus a USB 1.0, because performance drops if the port is slower. "SuperFetch lets us optimize memory so that even though we are adding more code to the system [through new features], the performance is actually better," he said at the time. CTP testers will also get to see BitLocker, a feature for full volume encryption, fully encrypted all information on the hard drive, including the operating system and uses a chip-set known as the Trusted Platform Module. "If a machine is locked it is rendered useless to whoever takes it," Boettcher said. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
"These are really important features and we want a lot of testing and feedback around them," he said.