Microsoft shipped the Beta 1.0 version of the next-generation Windows operating system to testers last week, the first step in readying the application for release in the second half of 2006.
Vista, formerly code-named Longhorn, is packed with security improvements, Microsoft said, including the ability to remove malicious programs like viruses and worms and stop outsiders from viewing a user's data. A new firewall scans incoming and outgoing data and network access protection protects a computer when it connects to an insecure network.
Microsoft will tie in the launch of Internet Explorer 7.0 with Vista. Here, again, the improvements focus on security issues with new icons on the address bar that lets users check the validity of a site's security certificate. On the features side there will be support for tabbed browsing, a toolbar search box that includes AOL, Ask Jeeves, Google, MSN Search and Yahoo Search. Integrated support for Web feeds (RSS) is incorporated.
Microsoft claims that Vista will also boost PC performance including faster start up, wake up and better responsiveness to user actions. A new sleep state has been developed that combines the wake-up speed of standby mode with the security features of hibernate mode.