Microsoft Releases Longhorn Server Code with Vista Beta

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-12-19

Microsoft Releases Longhorn Server Code with Vista Beta

Microsoft Corp. released to testers Monday a build for both the Windows Vista client and for the Longhorn Server.

Both the Longhorn Server and Vista client build number is 5270, testers said. Microsoft made the bits for both Windows builds available simultaneously for testers to download from the Microsoft Connect tester Web site.

According to the Web site, Microsoft is making a number of different Windows SKUs available as part of the December drop.

Testers can download the Windows Vista client x86 and x64 builds; Windows Longhorn Server x86 and x64 builds; and the Windows Longhorn Server Code x86 and x64.

A Microsoft spokesperson Monday confirmed that participants in the Windows Server "Longhorn" private beta program had received an updated build of Longhorn Server code as part of the Windows Vista CTP (Community Technology Preview).

"As with Windows Server Longhorn beta 1, code will not be available via public channels such as MSDN or TechNet. The goal of this private release is to continue gathering feedback from private beta program participants, including hardware vendors, system builders, software vendors, developers and technology adoption program [TAP] customers. To date, the first and only public build of Windows Server Longhorn was distributed in September at PDC 2005," she said.

Late last month, Microsoft said it was moving away from its policy of issuing monthly CTPs for Windows Vista, and would now release these based instead on the achievement of quality milestones.

As such, it skipped the November build but promised to deliver one before the end of the calendar year, which it did Monday.

Click here to read more about Microsofts policy of issuing monthly Community Technology Previews.

CTPs are interim pre-release versions of a Microsoft product that are not beta quality. They represent a snapshot of a product under development at a given time, and are meant for developers, IT professionals and testers who arent afraid to be on the bleeding edge.

Shanen Boettcher, a senior director in Windows client group, confirmed in a media conference call on Monday, as first reported on Friday, that the December release includes a number of new features and user-interface tweaks.

Read more here about a significant new feature for Windows Vista, known as Restart Manager, which is designed to update parts of the operating system or applications without having to reboot the entire machine.

Last week testers said a new defrag module, tight integration of Windows Defender (the product formerly known as Windows Antispyware), and a functional parental-controls filter were all likely to be in the December Vista build.

Boettcher said that security, performance and reliability are the cornerstone of this CTP release, with the inclusion of features like Windows Defender, which facilitates the removal of malware and spyware.

To read more about Vistas security features, click here.

Windows Defender also has a redesigned user interface to make it easier to use and could be run by a standard user, he said.

The firewall now also has bidirectional support and filtering, as well as advanced features around IP SEC for corporations to manage and configure the firewall.

Next Page: Additional features.

Additional Features

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.

"These are really important features and we want a lot of testing and feedback around them," he said.

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.

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