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Developers Get Windows Vista Beta 1

Microsoft is delivering Beta 1 of Windows Vista (formerly codenamed Longhorn) to 10,000 technical beta testers, and making the release available to members of the Microsoft Developer Network and the Microsoft TechNet program.

Microsoft also released the first beta of Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP, along with the IE version that will be bundled with Windows Vista.

This release encompasses two betas, explains John Montgomery, director of product management at Microsoft. Windows Vista Beta 1 is a developer-focused release that lacks some user-oriented features expected in 2006—no Windows Media Player or support for tablet and Media Center PCs. But it comes with the .NET Framework 2.0, the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF—formerly codenamed Avalon) and the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF—formerly codenamed Indigo) as well as an extensive set of new APIs for security, reliability, deployment, search and other features.

For the public, Microsoft is providing the WinFX Runtime Component Beta 1, which comprises the .NET Framework, the WPF and the WCF in a downloadable file that can be run on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. (WinFX is the new API, replacing the Win32 API, to allow access to these new technologies. It shouldn't be confused with the WinFS file system expected to go into its first beta about the time of the Vista launch.)

“At a certain level, this release is less about getting feedback and more about figuring out how to talk to people about [the technology], how to inform them about what’s going on and just getting that conversation going,” Montgomery says. “There are thousands of new APIs, in addition to all the managed code classes. It’s a huge surface area, and to some extent, we don’t know yet what people are going to latch on to, find fascinating and get excited about. And history has shown us that developers can take a long time to work out how they might have to change their applications to take advantage of the new features.”

The WPF is Vista's presentation system, designed to unify the way Windows creates, displays and manipulates documents, media and user interfaces. The WCF is the service-oriented messaging system, designed to unify and extend distributed technology stacks to deliver a consistent, composable experience for building connected systems.

The beta release comes with APIs focused on:

- User experience: New AERO controls complement WPF.

- Security: Developers will be able to create stable applications that leverage frameworks such as User Account Protection.

- Reliability: New APIs are designed to enable developers to build applications that will behave as a user expects them to.

- Deployment: to allow developers to write robust installers with less complexity

- Mobility: to support development of Windows apps for laptop, notebook and tablet PC users

- Data: to allow developers to make data easier to discover and share across applications—most notably, system-level APIs that enable developers to find and consume RSS feeds to aggregate information from multiple sources

- Connectivity: Vista promises faster data transmission and easier user-to-user connectivity; peer-to-peer functionality lets users discover and interact with nearby devices, while WCF APIs make it simpler to consume and expose Web services, enabling communication across a range of hardware and software.

- Search: to allow developers to leverage new file search and organization features

More information about the release is available at Windows Vista. The WinFX Runtime Component Beta 1 is available for download at: Microsoft.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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