Gates Shows Off New Office, Vista Versions

Bill Gates put the spotlight on new versions of Microsoft’s Office applications and long-awaited operating system at the company’s Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles this week.

During his keynote that kicked off the developer confab, Gates showcased Office 12, the next version of Microsoft Office applications. It features a new user interface that replaces traditional menus and toolbars with graphical command tabs that correspond with tasks. The command tabs for specialized tasks only appear when users need them. New graphical galleries present a collection of potential layouts for a document, and users select the layout they want. Microsoft expects to ship Office 12 in the second half of 2006, but a limited beta release is to be available later this year.

Microsoft executives also demonstrated new features in Vista, including Flip and Flip 3D, which make it easy to jump between open windows. As part of its Community Technology Preview, user account protection will prompt users for administrator credentials when any change, such as installing an application, will impact the entire system. Administrative accounts will be prompted for consent before making any system-level changes.

Windows SuperFetch loads all or part of a user’s often-used apps and files into unallocated system memory before they are needed by the system. Meeting participants can create or join a meeting via Meeting Space, as well as transfer files or broadcast presentations and documents to other participants’ PCs on any shared network. Meeting Space is one of the first features to use Vista’s People Near Me Capability, a peer-to-peer developer platform for server-less apps, including identification, user authentication, file replication and security.

Vista will be offered to all conference attendees and more than 10,000 beta testers in the Windows Vista Technical Beta Program. Members of MSDN and TechNet developer programs will also get a look at Vista. The software behemoth plans to release CTPs on a monthly basis, and Microsoft already has one lined up for October.

The company also expects to introduce several new products, including Atlas, the code name for a Web client framework for building asynchronous JavaScript and XML-style applications. The Language Integrated Query is a set of language extensions to C# and Visual Basic that extends the .NET framework by integrating query capabilities to objects, databases and XML data. Using LINQ, developers would write queries natively in C# or Visual Basic without using other languages, such as SQL or XQuery.

About the Author

Kathleen Ohlson is senior editor at Application Development Trends magazine.