Microsoft announces official name of its next-generation Windows client operating system. Beta 1, targeted at developers and IT professionals, will be available by August 3, 2005.

What is Windows Vista?

Wikipedia tells

Windows Vista is Microsoft’s next version of its Windows operating system, to follow Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. It was previously known by the codename Longhorn; the name “Vista” was unveiled on July 22, 2005.

Vista means “The visual percept of a region”, with these synonyms: aspect, panorama, prospect, scene and view. Translated from Spanish, Vista means: sight, vision, ability to see; look, glimpse; spectacle; viewfinder; range of view; point of view. In Latvian, however, vista means ‘chicken’ (as in food) and ‘hen’ (grown-up female of a bird).

Microsoft employee Don Lionetti tries out an early version of Windows Vista, the next-generation operating system. Atlanta, July 22, 2005.

Microsoft employee Don Lionetti tries out an early
version of Windows Vista, the next-generation operating
system. Atlanta, July 22, 2005.

Windows Vista was originally expected to ship sometime early in 2006 as a minor step between Windows XP and Windows Blackcomb. Gradually, Vista assimilated many important new features and technologies of Blackcomb. On August 27, 2004, Microsoft announced that it is delaying release of WinFS so that Vista could be released in “a reasonable timeframe” (officially marked as December of 2006). Two beta versions have been planned, the first expected to debut in Aug. 3rd, 2005 and the second in Q4 2005, with release candidates to be released throughout 2006, five years after the release of Windows XP, making it the longest time span between releases of its Windows operating system. Microsoft’s website indicates that the first beta of Windows Vista should be available on August 3rd 2005.

Vista is currently available as a preview release available to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers, and at select Microsoft developer conferences. The preview release is classified as an alpha version at the moment, and as such its performance and feature sets are not representative of the release product. Like many other products (including all Windows releases since Windows 98), it has since been leaked onto popular file sharing networks.

Microsoft labels the key new technologies as “The Pillars of Vista”, which are:

  • Fundamentals: new developments to the basic structure of the operating system including the .NET framework, further support for digital rights management (DRM), an application deployment engine (“ClickOnce”), improvements to the installation of applications (Windows Installer/MSI 4.0), and the Trustworthy Computing initiative, previously known as Palladium.

  • Avalon: a new user interface subsystem and API based on XML, .NET, and vector graphics, which will make use of 3D computer graphics hardware and Direct3D technologies.

  • Indigo: a service-oriented messaging system to allow programs to interoperate as part of the .NET framework.

  • WinFX: a new API to allow access to these new features, replacing the current “Win32” API.

It is worth noting that Avalon, Indigo, and WinFX are technologies that will be made available to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 as well, and are therefore not technologies to be exclusive to Vista, but rather developed in time for the Vista release, to be incorporated in that operating system. This doesn’t imply coming visual changes to these operating systems though, as Aero will still be exclusive to Vista. The reason for backporting these technologies is to allow an easier introduction to these technologies to developers and end users.

On March 26th Microsoft released a Community Preview featuring both Avalon and Indigo to enable developers to experiment with the new technologies without running the Alpha version of Vista. Due to many requests it was released to the general public and is available at Microsoft’s website

More information about Windows Vista can be found at Wikipedia