It's not very often that we have a chance to take a look at a new Windows operating system here at AnandTech. Not including the release of Windows XP x64 (the 64-bit version of windows) last year, Microsoft's premier operating system for workstation and home computer use has been Windows XP for nearly 5 years; that's an unprecedented period of time from Microsoft. However, that quiet period is about to come to a close early next year, as Microsoft begins to ramp up for the release of the next version of Windows: Windows Vista.

While Microsoft has been showing off Vista to various beta testers and developers for well over a year, including the first beta version released last July, it has only been since late May when Microsoft released Vista Beta 2 at WinHEC that a version has been available that is functional enough for testing. With the second beta, Microsoft has finally seen fit to release Vista to a wider audience of journalists and (for the first time) consumers, giving everyone a chance to see what is in store when Microsoft releases the final version of Vista next year. As the Vista customer preview version has just been released, we felt it was finally time for us to sit down and mingle with Vista and provide an official preview. We still have some reservations about the operating system, but we'll hold off on any final conclusions until Microsoft actually starts shipping Vista. In the mean time, Microsoft has managed to keep us intrigued with details of their OS that will replace the venerable XP.

For some time now, Microsoft has been in an interesting position of what to do after Windows XP. While Microsoft has had clear goals on what they've needed to deliver for each previous version of Windows, this hasn't been the case for Vista, which is part of the reason that it has taken so long for them to finish developing it. To put things in perspective, Windows 95 brought numerous new features including native 32-bit applications, an improved file system, a functional level of multitasking ability, and most importantly an immensely redefined user interface that made Windows much easier to use. Microsoft was able to follow that up with Windows 98, which added usable USB and AGP support, bringing Plug N Play to external devices and enabling the use of the next generation of graphics accelerators. Finally, with Windows XP, Microsoft ditched the DOS base of Windows and moved home users over to the NT kernel, vastly improving the stability and multitasking abilities of Windows to the level that business users had been enjoying for some time (courtesy of Windows NT/2000).

Herein lies the problem Microsoft has been facing since XP launched: what can you add to a (generally) stable OS that doesn't absolutely need any new hardware support or a user interface overhaul? Microsoft finally believes they have an answer to that problem, and today we'll be taking a look at what Microsoft will be bringing to your computers next year with the launch of Windows Vista. Perhaps for the first time since Windows first started shipping, Microsoft is in a position where they aren't shipping an OS where new technologies will carry it and the OS is just an enabler; instead with Vista the OS itself is the star.

The Many Faces of Windows
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  • shamgar03 - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    "3) final verdict? same as it ever was -- i'll be running vista for games and linux for programming. and since i've recently been bitten by the switch bug, os x for everything else."

  • darkdemyze - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    Personally I'm excited to see where Vista is going. But I still myself in the same position as stated above ^
  • CSMR - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    What has OS got to do with programming?
  • Pirks - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link


    What has OS got to do with programming?
    The guy's obviously coding some Linux stuff - do you want him to code stuff in cygwin on Vista? I don't think he's THIS kind of pervert, now is he? :))
  • fikimiki - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    AMD will replace Intel, Linux is going to replace Windows.
    Microsoft is close to death, Bill is gone, Ballmer is crazy.
    They are going to make this system usable with SP3 working on Athlon64 16000+ (which is just 4x4000) acting as a fast turtle....
  • Pirks - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link


    Linux is going to replace Windows
    and Mesa 3D is going to replace DX10 - woohoo man keep this stuff coming, you're doin' great :))
  • stash - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    lol close to death, and yet they somehow find a way to ring up a billion (with a B) dollars in profit every single MONTH.
  • Xenoid - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link


  • darkdemyze - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    lol gg.

    I think some people need to get a grip..
  • sprockkets - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    1. Nice fade into the desktop.
    2. I'm sure they'll make new sounds and music, otherwise, it sadly is a new UI with and old annoying XP theme.
    3. Still can't use anything other than .wav for sounds? Why?
    4. Everything is all over the place, yet the classics are still there if you need it.
    5. Finally, an all GUI installer. Welcome to the rest of the world haha.
    6. Instead of asking for permission all the time, why not allow the control panel to open, then ask, then do not ask again when using anything in it?
    7. Like mentioned, why make it so hard to hide the turn off button? Stupid.
    8. It will take getting used to. Might as well switch to a Mac or even Linux, because you will be spending effort to get used to the differences. "Where is the start menu? No display properties? OK, it is personalize. Where did all the usual menus go? "
    9. Funny, doing a file download in IE7 shows a nice progress bar, with the old as hell earth graphic with the flying piece of paper into the folder with the little red crash mark. Couldn't think of anything to replace it, or feeling nostolgic?
    10. Major annoyances gone with fresh new ones.
    11. Usual Microsoft behavior: Change for the sake of change (that damn power button!)

    Other thoughts: Yeah, OSX officially runs on x86 hardware, as long as it has an Apple logo on it. We did it to not have to worry about drivers and such. Yeah, as if you don't both have the same Intel chipset to support.
    Sometimes in Xp you cannot burn unless you are an Admin. I couldn't even run Asus Probe for whatever reason, and all it does is check for temps and such.
    Is Expose the same as the new compiz and XGL?

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