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Development was completed on November 8, , and over the following three months, it was released in stages to computer hardware and software manufacturers, business customers and retail channels. On January 30, , it was released internationally and was made available for purchase and download from the Windows Marketplace ; it is the first release of Windows to be made available through a digital distribution platform. New features of Windows Vista include an updated graphical user interface and visual style dubbed Aero , a new search component called Windows Search , redesigned networking, audio, print and display sub-systems, and new multimedia tools such as Windows DVD Maker.
Vista aimed to increase the level of communication between machines on a home network , using peer-to-peer technology to simplify sharing files and media between computers and devices. Windows Vista included version 3. While these new features and security improvements garnered positive reviews, Vista was also the target of much criticism and negative press. Criticism of Windows Vista includes its high system requirements , its more restrictive licensing terms, lack of compatibility, longer boot time , and excessive authorization prompts from User Account Control.
As a result of these and other issues, Windows Vista saw initial adoption and satisfaction rates lower than Windows XP. However, Vista usage had surpassed Microsoft’s pre-launch two-year-out expectations of achieving million users, with an estimated million Internet users in January On October 22, , Microsoft ceased sales of retail copies of Windows Vista, and the original equipment manufacturer sales for Vista ceased a year later.
Official mainstream support for Vista ended on April 10, , and extended support ended on April 11, , while the server equivalent, Windows Server , had its mainstream support ended on January 13, ,  followed by extended support on January 14, As of February [update] , 0.
Microsoft began work on Windows Vista, known at the time by its codename “Longhorn”, in May ,  five months before the release of Windows XP. It was originally expected to ship in late as a minor step between Windows XP and “Blackcomb”, which was planned to be the company’s next major operating system release.
Gradually, “Longhorn” assimilated many of the important new features and technologies slated for Blackcomb, resulting in the release date being pushed back several times in three years. In some builds of Longhorn, their license agreement said “For the Microsoft product codenamed ‘Whistler'”. Many of Microsoft’s developers were also re-tasked to build updates to Windows XP and Windows Server to strengthen security.
Faced with ongoing delays and concerns about feature creep , Microsoft announced on August 27, , that it had revised its plans.
For this reason, Longhorn was reset to start work on componentizing the Windows Server Service Pack 1 codebase, and over time re-incorporating the features that would be intended for an actual operating system release. Longhorn became known as Vista in The early development stages of Longhorn were generally characterized by incremental improvements and updates to Windows XP.
During this period, Microsoft was fairly quiet about what was being worked on, as their marketing and public relations efforts were more strongly focused on Windows XP, and Windows Server , which was released in April Occasional builds of Longhorn were leaked onto popular file sharing networks such as IRC , BitTorrent , eDonkey and various newsgroups , and so most of what is known about builds before the first sanctioned development release of Longhorn in May is derived from these builds.
After several months of relatively little news or activity from Microsoft with Longhorn, Microsoft released Build , which had made an appearance on the Internet around February 28, As an evolutionary release over build , it contained several small improvements, including a modified blue “Plex” theme and a new, simplified Windows Image-based installer that operates in graphical mode from the outset, and completed an install of the operating system in approximately one third the time of Windows XP on the same hardware.
An optional “new taskbar” was introduced that was thinner than the previous build and displayed the time differently. The most notable visual and functional difference, however, came with Windows Explorer. The incorporation of the Plex theme made blue the dominant color of the entire application. The Windows XP-style task pane was almost completely replaced with a large horizontal pane that appeared under the toolbars.
A new search interface allowed for filtering of results, searching for Windows help, and natural-language queries that would be used to integrate with WinFS. The animated search characters were also removed. The “view modes” were also replaced with a single slider that would resize the icons in real-time, in the list, thumbnail, or details mode, depending on where the slider was. File metadata was also made more visible and more easily editable, with more active encouragement to fill out missing pieces of information.
Also of note was the conversion of Windows Explorer to being a. NET application. Most builds of Longhorn and Vista were identified by a label that was always displayed in the bottom-right corner of the desktop. A typical build label would look like “Longhorn Build Higher build numbers did not automatically mean that the latest features from every development team at Microsoft was included.
Typically, a team working on a certain feature or subsystem would generate their working builds which developers would test with, and when the code was deemed stable, all the changes would be incorporated back into the main development tree at once.
At Microsoft, several “Build labs” exist where the compilation of the entirety of Windows can be performed by a team.
The name of the lab in which any given build originated is shown as part of the build label, and the date and time of the build follow that. Some builds such as Beta 1 and Beta 2 only display the build label in the version information dialog Winver. The icons used in these builds are from Windows XP. The demonstrations were done on a revised build which was never released. Several sessions for developers and hardware engineers at the conference focused on these new features, as well as the Next-Generation Secure Computing Base previously known as “Palladium” , which at the time was Microsoft’s proposed solution for creating a secure computing environment whereby any given component of the system could be deemed “trusted”.
Also at this conference, Microsoft reiterated their roadmap for delivering Longhorn, pointing to an “early ” release date. By , it had become obvious to the Windows team at Microsoft that they were losing sight of what needed to be done to complete the next version of Windows and ship it to customers.
Internally, some Microsoft employees were describing the Longhorn project as “another Cairo” or “Cairo. NET”, referring to the Cairo development project that the company embarked on through the first half of the s, which never resulted in a shipping operating system though nearly all the technologies developed in that time did end up in Windows 95 and Windows NT .
It offered only a limited subset of features planned for Longhorn, in particular fast file searching and integrated graphics and sound processing, but appeared to have impressive reliability and performance compared to contemporary Longhorn builds.
In a September 23, front-page article in The Wall Street Journal ,  Microsoft co-president Jim Allchin , who had overall responsibility for the development and delivery of Windows, explained how development of Longhorn had been “crashing into the ground” due in large part to the haphazard methods by which features were introduced and integrated into the core of the operating system, without a clear focus on an end-product.
Allchin went on to explain how in December , he enlisted the help of two other senior executives, Brian Valentine and Amitabh Srivastava, the former being experienced with shipping software at Microsoft, most notably Windows Server ,  and the latter having spent his career at Microsoft researching and developing methods of producing high-quality testing systems. This change, announced internally to Microsoft employees on August 26, , began in earnest in September, though it would take several more months before the new development process and build methodology would be used by all of the development teams.
A number of complaints came from individual developers, and Bill Gates himself, that the new development process was going to be prohibitively difficult to work within. By approximately November , the company had considered several names for the final release, ranging from simple to fanciful and inventive. In the end, Microsoft chose Windows Vista as confirmed on July 22, , believing it to be a “wonderful intersection of what the product really does, what Windows stands for, and what resonates with customers, and their needs”.
That’s what Windows Vista is all about: “bringing clarity to your world” a reference to the three marketing points of Vista—Clear, Connected, Confident , so you can focus on what matters to you”. After Longhorn was named Windows Vista in July , an unprecedented beta-test program was started, involving hundreds of thousands of volunteers and companies. The first of these was distributed at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference , and was subsequently released to beta testers and Microsoft Developer Network subscribers.
The builds that followed incorporated most of the planned features for the final product, as well as a number of changes to the user interface, based largely on feedback from beta testers. Windows Vista was deemed feature-complete with the release of the “February CTP”, released on February 22, , and much of the remainder of the work between that build and the final release of the product focused on stability, performance, application and driver compatibility, and documentation.
Beta 2, released in late May, was the first build to be made available to the general public through Microsoft’s Customer Preview Program. It was downloaded over 5 million times. Two release candidates followed in September and October, both of which were made available to a large number of users.
The UEFI 2. As a result, the decision was made to postpone the introduction of UEFI support to Windows; support for UEFI on bit platforms was postponed until Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Server and bit UEFI would not be supported, as Microsoft did not expect many such systems to be built because the market was quickly moving to bit processors.
While Microsoft had originally hoped to have the consumer versions of the operating system available worldwide in time for the holiday shopping season , it announced in March that the release date would be pushed back to January in order to give the company—and the hardware and software companies that Microsoft depends on for providing device drivers —additional time to prepare. Because a release to manufacturing RTM build is the final version of code shipped to retailers and other distributors, the purpose of a pre-RTM build is to eliminate any last “show-stopper” bugs that may prevent the code from responsibly being shipped to customers, as well as anything else that consumers may find annoying.
Thus, it is unlikely that any major new features would be introduced; instead, work would focus on Vista’s fit and finish. In just a few days, developers had managed to drop Vista’s bug count from over on September 22 to just over by the time RC2 shipped in early October. However, they still had a way to go before Vista was ready to RTM. Microsoft’s internal processes required Vista’s bug count to drop to or fewer before the product could go into escrow for RTM.
On June 14, , Windows developer Philip Su posted a blog entry which decried the development process of Windows Vista, stating that “The code is way too complicated, and that the pace of coding has been tremendously slowed down by overbearing process.
During a demonstration of the speech recognition feature new to Windows Vista at Microsoft’s Financial Analyst Meeting on July 27, , the software recognized the phrase “Dear mom” as “Dear aunt”. After several failed attempts to correct the error, the sentence eventually became ” Dear aunt, let’s set so double the killer delete select all “.
Windows Vista build October 17, was supposed to be the RTM release, but a bug, which destroyed any system that was upgraded from Windows XP, prevented this, damaging development and lowering the chance that it would hit its January deadline. Development of Windows Vista came to an end when Microsoft announced that it had been finalized on November 8, , and was concluded by co-president of Windows development, Jim Allchin.
Vista includes technologies such as ReadyBoost  and ReadyDrive , which employ fast flash memory located on USB flash drives and hybrid hard disk drives to improve system performance by caching commonly used programs and data. This manifests itself in improved battery life on notebook computers as well, since a hybrid drive can be spun down when not in use. It uses almost all the extra RAM as disk cache. As part of the redesign of the networking architecture, IPv6 has been fully incorporated into the operating system  and a number of performance improvements have been introduced, such as TCP window scaling.
The new driver model facilitates the new Desktop Window Manager , which provides the tearing -free desktop and special effects that are the cornerstones of Windows Aero. Direct3D 10, developed in conjunction with major graphics card manufacturers, is a new architecture with more advanced shader support, and allows the graphics processing unit to render more complex scenes without assistance from the CPU.
It does this by making it easy to connect to external monitors, providing for protected HD video playback, and increasing overall video playback quality. For the first time in Windows, graphics processing unit GPU multitasking is possible, enabling users to run more than one GPU-intensive application simultaneously.
The Heap Manager implements additional features such as integrity checking in order to improve robustness and defend against buffer overflow security exploits , although this comes at the price of breaking backward compatibility with some legacy applications.
Improved security was a primary design goal for Vista. UAC is a security technology that makes it possible for users to use their computer with fewer privileges by default, to stop malware from making unauthorized changes to the system. This was often difficult in previous versions of Windows, as the previous “limited” user accounts proved too restrictive and incompatible with a large proportion of application software, and even prevented some basic operations such as looking at the calendar from the notification tray.
Regular use of the computer such as running programs, printing, or surfing the Internet does not trigger UAC prompts. User Account Control asks for credentials in a Secure Desktop mode, in which the entire screen is dimmed, and only the authorization window is active and highlighted. The intent is to stop a malicious program from misleading the user by interfering with the authorization window, and to hint to the user about the importance of the prompt.
Symantec used over 2, active malware samples, consisting of backdoors , keyloggers , rootkits , mass mailers, trojan horses , spyware , adware , and various other samples. Each was executed on a default Windows Vista installation within a standard user account. UAC effectively blocked over 50 percent of each threat , excluding rootkits.
Internet Explorer 7 ‘s new security and safety features include a phishing filter, IDN with anti-spoofing capabilities, and integration with system-wide parental controls. For added security, ActiveX controls are disabled by default.
Also, Internet Explorer operates in a protected mode, which operates with lower permissions than the user and runs in isolation from other applications in the operating system, preventing it from accessing or modifying anything besides the Temporary Internet Files directory.
Changes to various system configuration settings such as new auto-starting applications are blocked unless the user gives consent.
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