Windows Vista

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Posted by motoman 04/01/2009 @ 12:24

Tags : windows vista, windows, operating systems, computers, technology

News headlines
Windows 7 On Sale Before It's On Sale - New York Times
The company is also guaranteeing a free Windows 7 upgrade to all PC purchasers from June 26 to the retail software launch day in the fall. The memo seems to take a rather subtle slap at the current Windows Vista OS. According to the memo, Windows 7...
Browser Bits: Safari 4 Exits Beta, Firefox 3.5 Near Release - Washington Post
Aside from a brief bout of crashing on a Mac (which stopped after I updated Adobe's Flash plug-in -- not that the update necessarily had anything to do with that), Safari 4 seems fast and stable in both Mac OS X 10.5 and Windows Vista,...
Apple's Snow Leopard operating system hits Windows 7 in the wallet - Los Angeles Times
As if that and all of the Windows Vista-bashing that Apple has done in its ad campaigns weren't enough, Bertrand Serlet, Apple senior vice president of OS X software development, took some direct jabs at Windows during his speech....
Huge Microsoft Patch Fills Windows, Office, IE Holes - PC Magazine
MS09-022: Vulnerabilities in Windows Print Spooler Could Allow Remote Code Execution—This update is rated critical for Windows 2000, moderate for Windows XP and Server 2003 and, ironically, important for Windows Vista and Server 2008,...
Best Buy Memo on Windows 7 Outlines Upgrade Pricing - PC World
Windows Vista users won't have to pay much to upgrade to Windows 7, which is slated to ship October 22. The Best Buy "presell" deal will start June 26 and run 16 days through July 11. Other retailers will offer the promotional pricing as well,...
Windows Vista's Malware Protection Not Good Enough - enterpriser.in
By Enterpriser Staff | Jun 10, 2009 1559 hrs IST Researchers from Webroot, a provider of computer security solutions, found that the anti-spyware component in Windows Vista failed to block 84 percent of most common spyware programs....
Western Digital releases monster 4TB hard drive - Computerworld
It is compatible with Apple's Time Machine and includes software and instructions for reformatting to Windows operating systems. The system supports Mac OS X 10.4.10+, 10.5.2+ Windows 2000/XP/Vista: The 4TB version works with Windows Vista only because...
Patch Critical Holes in IE8 and IE7 on Vista SP2/SP1 and XP SP3 - Softpedia
Internet Explorer 8 for example contains only the HTML Objects Memory Corruption Vulnerability, which comes with a maximum severity rating of Critical on both Windows XP (SP2 and SP3) and Windows Vista (SP1 and SP2). “A remote code execution...
Windows Windows/Vista/XP - ZDNet.de
FusionDebug läuft unter Windows Windows, Vista, XP, die Dateigröße beträgt 155,84 MByte und das letzte Update wurde am 9. Juni 2009 in die ZDNet-Download-Datenbank aufgenommen. Die ZDNet-Redaktion hat das Programm noch nicht bewertet....
Red Hat's Fedora 11: So easy you'll forget it's Linux - CNET News
While none is perfect, the same is true of my preferred Mac OS X and Windows (Vista or XP). They all work, with little or no fiddling required. In fact, as an experiment I've been leaving my Linux-based Netbook around the house and have given my...

Windows Vista

The Windows Vista Codename (Longhorn) logo

Windows Vista is a line of operating systems developed by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, Tablet PCs, and media center PCs. Prior to its announcement on July 22, 2005, Windows Vista was known by its codename "Longhorn." Development was completed on November 8, 2006; over the following three months it was released in stages to computer hardware and software manufacturers, business customers, and retail channels. On January 30, 2007, it was released worldwide, and was made available for purchase and download from Microsoft's website. The release of Windows Vista came more than five years after the introduction of its predecessor, Windows XP, the longest time span between successive releases of Microsoft Windows desktop operating systems.

Windows Vista contains many changes and new features, including an updated graphical user interface and visual style dubbed Windows Aero, improved searching features, new multimedia creation tools such as Windows DVD Maker, and redesigned networking, audio, print, and display sub-systems. Vista also aims to increase the level of communication between machines on a home network, using peer-to-peer technology to simplify sharing files and digital media between computers and devices. Windows Vista includes version 3.0 of the .NET Framework, which aims to make it significantly easier for software developers to write applications than with the traditional Windows API.

Microsoft's primary stated objective with Windows Vista, however, has been to improve the state of security in the Windows operating system. One common criticism of Windows XP and its predecessors has been their commonly exploited security vulnerabilities and overall susceptibility to malware, viruses and buffer overflows. In light of this, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced in early 2002 a company-wide "Trustworthy Computing initiative" which aims to incorporate security work into every aspect of software development at the company. Microsoft stated that it prioritized improving the security of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 above finishing Windows Vista, thus delaying its completion.

While these new features and security improvements have garnered positive reviews, Vista has also been the target of much criticism and negative press. Criticism of Windows Vista has targeted its high system requirements, its more restrictive licensing terms, the inclusion of a number of new digital rights management technologies aimed at restricting the copying of protected digital media, lack of compatibility with some pre-Vista hardware and software, and the number of authorization prompts for User Account Control. As a result of these and other issues, Windows Vista had seen initial adoption and satisfaction rates lower than Windows XP. However, as of January 2009, it has been announced that Vista usage had surpassed Microsoft’s pre-launch two-year-out expectations of achieving 200 million users by an estimated 150 million.

Microsoft began work on Windows Vista, known at the time by its codename Longhorn in May 2001, five months before the release of Windows XP. It was originally expected to ship sometime late in 2003 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. Many of Microsoft's developers were also re-tasked to build updates to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 to strengthen security. Faced with ongoing delays and concerns about feature creep, Microsoft announced on August 27, 2004 that it had revised its plans. The original Longhorn, based on the Windows XP source code, was scrapped, and Longhorn's development started anew, building on the Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 codebase, and re-incorporating only the features that would be intended for an actual operating system release. Some previously announced features such as WinFS were dropped or postponed, and a new software development methodology called the Security Development Lifecycle was incorporated in an effort to address concerns with the security of the Windows codebase.

After Longhorn was named Windows Vista in July 2005, an unprecedented beta-test program was started, involving hundreds of thousands of volunteers and companies. In September of that year, Microsoft started releasing regular Community Technology Previews (CTP) to beta testers. The first of these was distributed at the 2005 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, 2006, and much of the remainder of 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 by over five million people. Two release candidates followed in September and October, both of which were made available to a large number of users.

While Microsoft had originally hoped to have the consumer versions of the operating system available worldwide in time for Christmas 2006, it was announced in March 2006 that the release date would be pushed back to January 2007, in order to give the company–and the hardware and software companies which Microsoft depends on for providing device drivers–additional time to prepare. With the November 8, 2006 announcement of the completion of Windows Vista, Microsoft's lengthiest operating system development project came to an end. Windows Vista ended up costing Microsoft 6 billion dollars to develop.

Windows Vista is intended to be a technology-based release, to provide a base to include advanced technologies, many of which are related to how the system functions and thus not readily visible to the user. An example is the complete restructuring of the architecture of the audio, print, display, and networking subsystems; although the results of this work are visible to software developers, end-users will only see what appear to be evolutionary changes in the user interface.

Vista includes technologies such as ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive which employ fast flash memory (located on USB 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. Another new technology called SuperFetch utilizes machine learning techniques to analyze usage patterns to allow Windows Vista to make intelligent decisions about what content should be present in system memory at any given time. It uses almost all the extra RAM as disk cache. In conjunction with SuperFetch, an automatic built-in Windows Disk Defragmenter makes sure that those applications are strategically positioned on the hard disk where they can be loaded into memory very quickly with the least amount of physical movement of the hard disk’s read-write heads.

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. Earlier versions of Windows typically needed third-party wireless networking software to work properly, but this is not the case with Vista, which includes more comprehensive wireless networking support.

For graphics, Vista introduces a new Windows Display Driver Model and a major revision to Direct3D. 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 features improved load balancing between CPU and GPU and also optimizes data transfer between them.

At the core of the operating system, many improvements have been made to the memory manager, process scheduler and I/O scheduler. 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. A Kernel Transaction Manager has been implemented that enables applications to work with the file system and Registry using atomic transaction operations.

Improved security was a primary design goal for Vista. Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative, which aims to improve public trust in its products, has had a direct effect on its development. This effort has resulted in a number of new security and safety features.

User Account Control, or UAC is perhaps the most significant and visible of these changes. UAC is a security technology that makes it possible for users to use their computer with fewer privileges by default, with a view to stopping 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. In Windows Vista, when an action requiring administrative rights—such as installing/uninstalling software or making system-wide configuration changes—is performed, the user is first prompted for an administrator name and password; in cases where the user is already an administrator, the user is still prompted to confirm the pending privileged action. 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 misleading the user by interfering with the authorization window, and to hint to the user the importance of the prompt.

Internet Explorer 7's new security and safety features include a phishing filter and integration with system-wide parental controls. For added security, ActiveX controls are not allowed to automatically run by default. Internet Explorer also 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.

Microsoft's anti-spyware product, Windows Defender, has been incorporated into Windows Vista, providing protection against various types of malware. Changes to system configuration settings (such as new auto-starting applications) may be blocked unless the user gives consent.

Whereas prior releases of Windows supported per-file encryption using Encrypting File System, the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Vista include BitLocker Drive Encryption which can protect entire volumes, notably the operating system volume. However, BitLocker requires approximately a 1.5-gigabyte partition to be permanently unencrypted and to contain system files in order for Windows to boot. In normal circumstances, the only time this partition is accessed is when the computer is booting, or when there is a Windows update that changes files in this area which is a legitimate reason to access this section of the drive. The area can be a potential security issue, because a hexadecimal editor (such as dskprobe.exe), or malicious software running with administrator and/or kernel level privileges would be able to write to this "Ghost Partition" and allow a piece of malicious software to compromise the system, or disable the encryption. BitLocker can work in conjunction with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) cryptoprocessor (version 1.2) embedded in a computer's motherboard, or with a USB key.

As part of the redesign of the network stack, Windows Firewall has been upgraded, with new support for filtering both incoming and outgoing traffic. Advanced packet filter rules can be created which can grant or deny communications to specific services.

The 64-bit versions of Vista require that all device drivers be digitally signed, so that the creator of the driver can be identified.

While much of the focus of Vista's new capabilities has been on the new user interface, security technologies, and improvements to the core operating system, Microsoft is also adding new deployment and maintenance features.

These technologies are also available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 to facilitate their introduction to and usage by developers and end users.

There are also significant new development APIs in the core of the operating system, notably the completely re-architected audio, networking, print, and video interfaces, major changes to the security infrastructure, improvements to the deployment and installation of applications ("ClickOnce" and Windows Installer 4.0) , new device driver development model ("Windows Driver Foundation") , Transactional NTFS, mobile computing API advancements (power management, Tablet PC Ink support, SideShow) and major updates to (or complete replacements of) many core subsystems such as Winlogon and CAPI.

There are some issues for software developers using some of the graphics APIs in Vista. Games or programs which are built solely on the Windows Vista-exclusive version of DirectX, version 10, cannot work on prior versions of Windows. Also, games which require the features of D3D9Ex, the updated implementation of DirectX 9 in Windows Vista are also incompatible with previous Windows versions. According to a Microsoft blog, there are three choices for OpenGL implementation on Vista. An application can use the default implementation, which translates OpenGL calls into the Direct3D API and is frozen at OpenGL version 1.4, or an application can use an Installable Client Driver (ICD) , which comes in two flavors: legacy and Vista-compatible. A legacy ICD disables the Desktop Window Manager, a Vista-compatible ICD takes advantage of a new API, and is fully compatible with the Desktop Window Manager. At least two primary vendors, ATI and NVIDIA provided full Vista-compatible ICDs. However, hardware overlay is not supported, because it is considered as an obsolete feature in Vista. ATI and NVIDIA strongly recommend using compositing desktop/Framebuffer Objects for same functionality.

Some notable Windows XP features and components have been replaced or removed in Windows Vista, including Windows Messenger, NTBackup, the network Messenger Service, HyperTerminal, MSN Explorer, Active Desktop, and the replacement of NetMeeting with Windows Meeting Space. Windows Vista also does not include the Windows XP "Luna" visual theme, or most of the classic color schemes which have been part of Windows since the Windows 3.x era. The "Hardware profiles" startup feature has also been removed, along with support for older motherboard technologies like the EISA bus, APM and Game port support (though on the 32-bit version game port support can be enabled by applying an older driver). IP over FireWire (TCP/IP over IEEE 1394) has been removed as well. The IPX/SPX Protocol has also been removed, although it can be enabled by a third-party plugin.

Windows Vista ships in six editions. These are roughly divided into two target markets, consumer and business, with editions varying to cater for specific sub-markets. For consumers, there are four editions, with three available for developed countries. Windows Vista Starter edition is limited to emerging markets. Windows Vista Home Basic is intended for budget users with low needs. Windows Vista Home Premium covers the majority of the consumer market, and contains applications for creating and using multimedia. The home editions cannot join a Windows Server domain. For businesses, there are two editions. Windows Vista Business is specifically designed for small and medium-sized businesses, while Windows Vista Enterprise is only available to customers participating in Microsoft's Software Assurance program. Windows Vista Ultimate contains the complete feature-set of both the Home and Business (combination of both Home Premium and Enterprise) editions, as well as a set of Windows Ultimate Extras, and is aimed at enthusiasts.

All editions except Windows Vista Starter support both 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) processor architectures.

In the European Union, Home Basic N and Business N versions are also available. These come without Windows Media Player, due to EU sanctions brought against Microsoft for violating anti-trust laws. Similar sanctions exist in South Korea.

Dell and Microsoft partnered to support (PRODUCT) RED. Microsoft released the Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT) RED that exclusively will come together with Dell (PRODUCT) RED Computers.

Windows Vista has four distinct visual styles.

Computers capable of running Windows Vista are classified as Vista Capable and Vista Premium Ready. A Vista Capable or equivalent PC is capable of running all editions of Windows Vista although some of the special features and high-end graphics options may require additional or more advanced hardware. A Vista Premium Ready PC can take advantage of Vista's high-end features.

Windows Vista's Basic and Classic interfaces work with virtually any graphics hardware that supports Windows XP or 2000; accordingly, most discussion around Vista's graphics requirements centers on those for the Windows Aero interface. As of Windows Vista Beta 2, the NVIDIA GeForce 6 series and later, the ATI Radeon 9500 and later, Intel's GMA 950 and later integrated graphics, and a handful of VIA chipsets and S3 Graphics discrete chips are supported. Although originally supported, the GeForce FX 5 series has been dropped from newer drivers from NVIDIA. The last driver from NVIDIA to support the GeForce FX series on Vista was 96.85. Microsoft offers a tool called the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor to assist Windows XP and Vista users in determining what versions of Windows their machine is capable of running. Although the installation media included in retail packages is a 32-bit DVD, customers needing a CD-ROM or customers who wish for a 64-bit install media are able to acquire this media through the Windows Vista Alternate Media program. The Ultimate edition includes both 32-bit and 64-bit media. The digitally downloaded version of Ultimate includes only one version, either 32-bit or 64-bit, from Windows Marketplace.

Microsoft occasionally releases service packs for its Windows operating systems to fix bugs and add new features.

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) was released on February 4, 2008 alongside Windows Server 2008 to OEM partners, after a five-month beta test period. The initial deployment of the service pack caused a number of machines to continually reboot, rendering the machines unusable. This caused Microsoft to temporarily suspend automatic deployment of the service pack until the problem was resolved. The synchronized release date of the two operating systems reflected the merging of the workstation and server kernels back into a single code base for the first time since Windows 2000. MSDN subscribers were able to download SP1 on February 15, 2008. SP1 became available to current Windows Vista users on Windows Update and the Download Center on March 18, 2008. Initially, the service pack only supported 5 languages - English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese. Support for the remaining 31 languages was released on April 14, 2008.

A whitepaper published by Microsoft near the end of August 2007 outlined the scope and intent of the service pack, identifying three major areas of improvement: reliability and performance, administration experience, and support for newer hardware and standards.

One area of particular note is performance. Areas of improvement include file copy operations, hibernation, logging off on domain-joined machines, JavaScript parsing in Internet Explorer, network file share browsing, Windows Explorer ZIP file handling, and Windows Disk Defragmenter. The ability to choose individual drives to defragment is being reintroduced as well.

Service Pack 1 introduces support for some new hardware and software standards, notably the exFAT file system, 802.11n wireless networking, IPv6 over VPN connections, and the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol. Booting a system using Extensible Firmware Interface on x64 systems is also being introduced; this feature had originally been slated for the initial release of Vista but was delayed due to a lack of compatible hardware at the time.

Two areas have seen changes in SP1 that have come as the result of concerns from software vendors. One of these is desktop search; users will be able to change the default desktop search program to one provided by a third party instead of the Microsoft desktop search program that comes with Windows Vista, and desktop search programs will be able to seamlessly tie in their services into the operating system. These changes come in part due to complaints from Google, whose Google Desktop Search application was hindered by the presence of Vista's built-in desktop search. In June 2007, Google claimed that the changes being introduced for SP1 "are a step in the right direction, but they should be improved further to give consumers greater access to alternate desktop search providers". The other area of note is a set of new security APIs being introduced for the benefit of antivirus software that currently relies on the unsupported practice of patching the kernel (see Kernel Patch Protection).

An update to DirectX 10, named DirectX 10.1, makes mandatory several features which were previously optional in Direct3D 10 hardware. Graphics cards will be required to support DirectX 10.1. SP1 includes a kernel (6001) that matches the version shipped with Windows Server 2008.

The Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) is being replaced by the Group Policy Object Editor. An updated downloadable version of the Group Policy Management Console was released soon after the service pack.

SP1 enables support for hotpatching, a reboot-reduction servicing technology designed to maximize uptime. It works by allowing Windows components to be updated (or "patched") while they are still in use by a running process. Hotpatch-enabled update packages are installed via the same methods as traditional update packages, and will not trigger a system reboot.

Service Pack 2 is currently in final Release Candidate testing stages. Initial testing releases were released to Technology Adoption Program customers on 29 October 2008; a public "Customer Preview Program" release followed on December 4.

Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 will share a single service pack binary, reflecting the fact that their code bases were joined with the release of Server 2008.

Unlike prior Service Pack releases of both Windows Vista and Windows XP, Microsoft has decided to release Service Pack 2 in the form of an OEM Preinstallation Kit to OEM partners 60 days after the date of Windows 7 General Availability.

According to Microsoft, they hope to release Service Pack 2 (RTM) on April 2009 and hoping to release the final program on the second quarter of the year.

Windows Vista has received a number of negative assessments. Criticism targets include protracted development time, more restrictive licensing terms, the inclusion of a number of technologies aimed at restricting the copying of protected digital media, and the usability of the new User Account Control security technology. Some concerns have been raised about many PCs meeting "Vista Premium Ready" hardware requirements and Vista's pricing.

Criticism of upgrade licenses pertaining to Windows Vista Starter through Home Premium was expressed by Ars Technica's Ken Fisher, who noted that the new requirement of having a prior operating system already installed was going to cause irritation for users who reinstall Windows on a regular basis. It has been revealed that an Upgrade copy of Windows Vista can be installed clean without first installing a previous version of Windows. On the first install, Windows will refuse to activate. The user must then reinstall that same copy of Vista. Vista will then activate on the reinstall, thus allowing a user to install an Upgrade of Windows Vista without owning a previous operating system. As with Windows XP, separate rules still apply to OEM versions of Vista installed on new PCs: Microsoft asserts that these versions are not legally transferable (although whether this conflicts with the right of first sale has yet to be decided clearly legally).

Windows Vista supports additional forms of digital rights management protections. One aspect of this is the Protected Video Path, which is designed so that "premium content" from HD DVD or Blu-ray Discs may mandate that the connections between PC components be encrypted. Depending on what the content demands, the devices may not pass premium content over non-encrypted outputs, or they must artificially degrade the quality of the signal on such outputs or not display it at all. Drivers for such hardware must be approved by Microsoft; a revocation mechanism is also included which allows Microsoft to disable drivers of devices in end-user PCs over the Internet. Peter Gutmann, security researcher and author of the open source cryptlib library, claims that these mechanisms violate fundamental rights of the user (such as fair use), unnecessarily increase the cost of hardware, and make systems less reliable (the "tilt bit" being a particular worry; if triggered, the entire graphic subsystem performs a reset) and vulnerable to denial-of-service attacks. However despite several requests for evidence supporting such claims Peter Gutman has never supported his claims with any researched evidence. Proponents have claimed that Microsoft had no choice but to follow the demands of the movie studios, and that the technology will not actually be enabled until after 2010; Microsoft also noted that content protection mechanisms have existed in Windows as far back as Windows Me, and that the new protections will not apply to any existing content (only future content).

Although UAC is considered an important part of Vista's security infrastructure, as it blocks software from silently gaining administrator privileges without the user's knowledge, it has been widely criticized for generating too many prompts. This has led many Vista UAC users to consider it annoying and tiresome, with some consequently either turning it off or putting it in auto-approval mode. Responding to this criticism, Microsoft altered the implementation to reduce the number of prompts with SP1. Though the changes have resulted in some improvement, it has not alleviated the concerns completely.

Initially it was thought that the adoption of Vista has been generally low, due to largely poor reviews and harsh criticism, but a later Gartner research report predicted that Vista business adoption in 2008 will actually beat that of XP during the same time frame (21.3% vs. 16.9%) while IDC had indicated that the launch of Windows Server 2008 served as a catalyst for the stronger adoption rates. As of January 2009, Forrester Research had indicated that almost one third of North American and European corporations have started deploying Vista. Earlier, PC World rated it as the biggest tech disappointment of 2007, and it was rated by InfoWorld as #2 of Tech's all-time 25 flops. The internet-usage market share for Windows Vista, taking the latest statistic, was 22.48% as of January 2009. This figure combined with World Internet Users and Population Stats yields a user base of roughly 350 million which exceeded Microsoft's two-year post launch expectations by 150 million.

Within its first month, 20 million copies of Vista were sold, double the amount of Windows XP sales within its first month in October 2001, five years earlier. In China, only 244 genuine retail copies were sold within the first two weeks, leading authorities to believe that software piracy left many copies unaccounted for. However, PC World indicated that the visitor base of Windows Vista was increasing at a much slower rate compared to that of Windows XP. Within the first year of its release, the percentage of Windows XP users visiting PC World's website reached 36%; in the same time frame, however, Windows Vista visitors reached only 14%, with 71% of users still running XP. In November 2006, PC World had expected the overall first-year adoption rate to be 15% (vs. 12-14% for XP). Due to Vista's relatively low adoption rates and continued demand for Windows XP, Microsoft continued to sell Windows XP until June 30, 2008 instead of the previously planned date of January 31, 2008. There were reports of Vista users downgrading their operating systems, as well as reports of businesses planning to skip Vista. A study conducted by ChangeWave in March 2008 showed that the percentage of corporate users who are "very satisfied" with Vista was dramatically lower than other operating systems, with Vista at 8%, compared to the 40% who said they were "very satisfied" with Windows XP.

Although business adoption of Vista has been far higher than Apple or Linux platforms, it has been slower than expected; while businesses do tend to delay upgrading their operating systems, there have been reports that Vista is installed on considerably fewer enterprise PCs than previously projected. According to InformationWeek, in December 2006, 6% of business enterprises were expected to employ Vista within the first year, yet as of October 2007, only about 1% of enterprise PCs were actually using Vista. While a large number of businesses had bought early-adopter licenses to run Windows Vista, many of these companies delayed deployment.

There have been a number of organizations who have denounced Vista due to its problems. For example, in October 2007, The Dutch Consumers' Association called for a boycott of Windows Vista after Microsoft refused to offer free copies of Windows XP to users who had problems with Vista.

Amid the negative reviews and reception, there have also been significant positive reviews of Vista, most notable among PC gamers and the advantages brought about with DirectX 10, which allows for better gaming performance and more realistic graphics, as well as support for many new capabilities brought about in new video cards and GPUs. However, many DirectX 9 games showed a drop in frame rate compared to that experienced in Windows XP. These results were largely the consequence of Vista's immature graphics processing units drivers, and higher system requirements for Vista itself. Recent benchmarks suggest that, as of mid-2008, Vista SP1 is now on par with Windows XP in terms of game performance. A February 2009 survey by Valve Corporation indicated that 36.01% of gamers are running Windows Vista (26.49% 32-bit, 9.52% 64-bit).

On February 29, 2008, Microsoft announced that it will lower the price of the Vista operating system sold at retail outlets in order to aid in its adoption. These price cuts only apply to the retail versions sold in shops, which account for less than 10% of total Vista sales. Vista Ultimate, for example, will see a 20% drop in its price, from US$399 to $319.

On July 17, 2008, Microsoft announced that it had sold 180 million licenses, which would amount to between 36 and 57 billion dollars in gross retail sale price using February 29, 2008 price tags of the various versions. Initial development of the software was claimed to be 6 billion dollars. However, according to HP, Microsoft's sales figures include business systems that ship with Vista licences but are "downgraded" and preloaded with XP.

On July 30, 2008, Microsoft indicated that Vista appears to be causing a shift in the PC industry from 32-bit to 64-bit. The installed base of 64-bit editions of Windows Vista, as a percentage of all Windows Vista systems, had more than tripled in the United States in the previous three months, while worldwide adoption had more than doubled during the same period. Another view showed that 20% of new Windows Vista PCs in the United States connecting to Windows Update in June were 64-bit PCs, up from 3% in March. Microsoft stated that the falling price of RAM and increased use of multitasking are benefits from SuperFetch, which accelerates performance with the installation of more RAM allowed 64-bit editions of Windows Vista. This has also been confirmed by Brad Brooks in an interview on October 13, 2008.

In July 2008, according to a marketing manager working for HP Australia, Windows XP was still being chosen over Windows Vista for the majority of business computer sales. As all customers of OEM versions of Vista Business and Ultimate are eligible for a free downgrade to Windows XP Professional, these Windows XP licenses are sold as Vista Business licenses, thus increasing Vista's sales figures. Some computer manufacturers have chosen to ship Windows XP restore disks along with new computers with Vista Business and Ultimate editions pre-installed, as well as new computers with XP instead of Vista.

By February, 2009, more than two years after Vista's release, its uptake among corporations was below 10%.

In July 2008, Microsoft introduced a web-based advertising campaign called the "Mojave Experiment", that depicts a group of people who are asked to evaluate the newest operating system from Microsoft, calling it Windows 'Mojave'. Participants are first asked about Vista, if they have used it, and their overall satisfaction with Vista on a scale of 1 to 10. They are then shown a demo of some of the new operating system's features, and asked their opinion and satisfaction with it on the same 1 to 10 scale. After respondents rate "Mojave", they are then told that they were really shown a demo of Windows Vista. The object was to test "A theory: If people could see Windows Vista firsthand, they would like it." According to Microsoft, the initial sample of respondents rated Vista an average of 4.4 out of 10, and Mojave received an average of 8.5, with no respondents rating Mojave lower than they originally rated Windows Vista before the demo.

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Windows Vista networking technologies

Architecture of the Next Generation TCP/IP stack

Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 contain a new networking stack, named Next Generation TCP/IP stack, which brings large improvements in all areas of network-related functionality. It includes native implementation of IPv6, as well as complete overhaul of IPv4. The new TCP/IP stack uses a new method to store configuration settings that enables more dynamic control and does not require a computer restart after settings are changed. The new stack, implemented as a dual stack model, is based on a strong host model and features an infrastructure to enable more modular components that can be dynamically inserted and removed.

The user interface for configuring, troubleshooting and working with network connections has changed significantly from prior versions of Windows as well. Users can make use of the new "Network and Sharing Center" to see the status of their network connections, and to access every aspect of configuration. A single icon in the notification area (system tray) represents connectivity through all network adapters, whether wired or wireless. The network can be browsed using Network Explorer, which replaces Windows XP's "My Network Places". Network Explorer items can be a shared device such as a scanner, or a file share. The Network Location Awareness (NLA) service uniquely identifies each network and exposes the network's attributes and connectivity type so that applications can determine the optimal network configuration. However, applications have to use the NLA APIs explicitly to be aware of the network connectivity changes, and adapt accordingly. Windows Vista uses the LLTD protocol to graphically present how different devices are connected over a network, as a Network Map. In addition, the Network Map uses LLTD to determine connectivity information and media type (wired or wireless), so that the map is topologically accurate. The ability to know network topology is important for diagnosing and solving networking problems, and for streaming content over a network connection. Any device can implement LLTD to appear on the Network Map with an icon representing the device, allowing users one-click access to the device's user interface. When LLTD is invoked, it provides metadata about the device that contains static or state information, such as the MAC address, IPv4/IPv6 address, signal strength etc.

Windows Vista classifies the networks it connects to as either Public, Private or Domain and uses Network Location Awareness to switch between network types. Different network types have different firewall policies. An open network such as a public wireless network is classified as Public and is the most restrictive of all network settings. In this mode other computers on the network are not trusted and external access to the computer, including sharing of files and printers, is disabled. A home network is classified as Private, and it enables file sharing between computers. If the computer is joined to a domain, the network is classified as a Domain network; in such a network the policies are set by the domain controller. When a network is first connected to, Windows Vista prompts to choose the correct network type. On subsequents connections to the network, the service is used to gain information on which network is connected to and automatically switch to the network configuration for the connected network. Windows Vista introduces a concept of network profiles. For each network, the system stores the IP address, DNS server, Proxy server and other network features specific to the network in that network's profile. So when that network is subsequently connected to, the settings need not be reconfigured, the ones saved in its profile are used. In the case of mobile machines, the network profiles are chosen automatically based on what networks are available. Each profile is part of either a Public, Private or Domain network.

The Windows Vista networking stack supports the dual Internet Protocol (IP) layer architecture in which the IPv4 and IPv6 implementations share common Transport and Framing layers. Windows Vista provides a GUI for configuration of both IPv4 and IPv6 properties. IPv6 is now supported by all networking components and services. The Windows Vista DNS client can use IPv6 transport. Internet Explorer in Windows Vista and other applications that use WinINet (Windows Mail, file sharing) support literal IPv6 addresses (RFC 2732). Windows Firewall and the IPsec Policies snap-in support IPv6 addresses as permissible character strings. In IPv6 mode, Windows Vista can use the Link Local Multicast Name Resolution (LLMNR) protocol, as described in RFC 4795, to resolve names of local hosts on a network which does not have a DNS server running. This service is useful for networks without a central managing server, and for ad-hoc wireless networks. IPv6 can also be used over PPP-based dial-up and PPPoE connections. Windows Vista can also act as a client/server for file sharing or DCOM over IPv6. Support for DHCPv6, which can be used with IPv6, is also included. IPv6 can even be used when full native IPv6 connectivity is not available, using Teredo tunneling; this can even traverse most IPv4 symmetric Network Address Translations (NATs) as well. Full support for multicast is also included, via the MLDv2 and SSM protocols. The IPv6 interface ID is randomly generated for permanent autoconfigured IPv6 addresses to prevent determining the MAC address based on known company IDs of NIC manufacturers.

Support for wireless networks is built into the network stack itself as a new set of APIs called Native Wifi, and does not emulate wired connections, as was the case with previous versions of Windows. This allows implementation of wireless-specific features such as larger frame sizes and optimized error recovery procedures. Native Wifi is exposed by Auto Configuration Module (ACM) which replaces Windows XP's Wireless Zero Configuration. The ACM is extensible, so developers can incorporate additional wireless functionality (such as automatic wireless roaming) and override the automatic configuration and connection logic without affecting the built-in framework. It is easier to find wireless networks in range and tell which networks are open and which are closed. Hidden wireless networks, which do not advertise their name (SSID) are better supported. Security for wireless networks is improved with improved support for newer wireless standards like 802.11i. EAP-TLS is the default authentication mode. Connections are made at the most secure connection level supported by the wireless access point. WPA2 can be used even in ad-hoc mode. Windows Vista also provides a Fast Roaming service that will allow users to move from one access point to another without loss of connectivity. Preauthentication with the new wireless access point can be used to retain the connectivity. Wireless networks are managed from either the Connect to a network dialog box within the GUI or the netsh wlan command from the shell. Settings for wireless networks can also be configured using Group policy.

Windows Vista enhances security when joining a domain over a wireless network. It can use Single Sign On to use the same credentials to join a wireless network as well as the domain housed within the network. In this case, the same RADIUS server is used for both PEAP authentication for joining the network and MS-CHAP v2 authentication to log in to the domain. A bootstrap wireless profile can also be created on the wireless client, which first authenticates the computer to the wireless network and joins the network. At this stage, the machine still does not have any access to the domain resources. The machine will run a script, stored either on the system or on USB thumb drive, which authenticates it to the domain. Authentication can be done either by using username and password combination or security certificates from a Public key infrastructure (PKI) vendor such as VeriSign.

Windows Vista features Windows Connect Now which supports setting up a wireless network using several methods supported in the Wi-Fi Protected Setup standard. It implements a native code API, Web Services for Devices (WSDAPI) to support Devices Profile for Web Services (DPWS) and also a managed code implementation in WCF. DPWS enables simpler device discoverability like UPnP and describes available services to those clients. Function Discovery is a new technology that serves as an abstraction layer between applications and devices, allowing applications to discover devices by referencing the device's function, rather than by its bus type or the nature of its connection. Plug and Play Extensions (PnP-X) allow network-connected devices to appear as local devices inside Windows connected physically. UPnP support has also been enhanced to include integration with PnP-X and Function Discovery.

Windows Vista's networking stack also uses several performance optimizations, which allow higher throughput by allowing faster recovery from packet losses, when using a high packet loss environment such as wireless networks. Windows Vista uses the NewReno (RFC 2582) algorithm which allows a sender to send more data while retrying in case it receives a partial acknowledgement, which is acknowledgement from the receiver for only a part of data that has been received. It also uses Selective Acknowledgements (SACK) to reduce the amount of data to be retransmitted in case a portion of the data sent was not received correctly, and Forward RTO-Recovery (F-RTO) to prevent unnecessary retransmission of TCP segments when round trip time increases. It also includes Neighbour Unreachability Detection capability in both IPv4 and IPv6, which tracks the accessibility of neighboring nodes. This allows faster error recovery, in case a neighboring node fails. NDIS 6.0 introduced in Windows Vista supports offloading IPv6 traffic and checksum calculations for IPv6, improved manageability, scalability and performance with reduced complexity for NDIS miniports, and simpler models for writing Lightweight Filter Drivers (LWF). LWF drivers are a combination of NDIS intermediate drivers and a miniport driver that eliminate the need to write a separate protocol and miniport and have a bypass mode to examine only selected control and data paths. The TCP/IP stack also provides fail-back support for default gateway changes by periodically attempting to send TCP traffic through a previously detected unavailable gateway. This can provide faster throughput by sending traffic through the primary default gateway on the subnet.

Another significant change that aims to improve network throughput is the automatic resizing of TCP Receive window. The receive window (RWIN) specifies how much data a host is prepared to receive, and is limited by, among other things, the available buffer space. In other words, it is a measure of how much data the remote transmitter can send before requiring an acknowledgement for the outstanding data. When the receive window is too small, the remote transmitter will frequently find that it has hit the limit of how much outstanding data it can transmit, even though there is enough bandwidth available to transmit more data. This leads to incomplete link utilization. So using a larger RWIN size boosts throughput in such situations; an auto-adjusting RWIN tries to keep the throughput rate as high as is permissible by the bandwidth of the link. Receive window auto tuning functionality continually monitors the bandwidth and the latency of TCP connections individually and optimize the receive window for each connection. The window size is increased in high-bandwidth (~5 Mbit/s+) or high-latency (>10ms) situations.

Traditional TCP implementations uses the TCP Slow Start algorithm to detect how fast it can transmit without choking the receiver (or intermediate nodes). In a nutshell, it specifies that transmission should start at a slow rate, by transmitting a few packets. This number is controlled by the Congestion window – which specifies the number of outstanding packets that has been transmitted but for which an acknowledgement of receipt from the receiver has not yet been received. As acknowledgements are received, the congestion window is expanded, one TCP segment at a time till an acknowledgement fails to arrive. Then the sender assumes that with the congestion window size of that instant, the network gets congested. However, a high bandwidth network can sustain a quite large congestion window without choking up. The slow start algorithm can take quite some time to reach that threshold – leaving the network under-utilized for a significant time.

The new TCP/IP stack also supports Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) to keep throughput hit due to network congestion as low as possible. Without ECN, a TCP message segment is dropped by some router when its buffer is full. Hosts get no notice of building congestion until packets start being dropped. The sender detects the segment did not reach the destination; but due to lack of feedback from the congested router, it has no information on the extent of reduction in transmission rate it needs to make. Standard TCP implementations detect this drop when they time out waiting for acknowledgement from the receiver. The sender then reduces the size of its congestion window, which is the limit on the amount of data in flight at any time. Multiple packet drops can even result in a reset of the congestion window, to TCP's Maximum Segment Size, and a TCP Slow Start. Exponential back-off and only additive increase produce stable network behaviour, letting routers recover from congestion. However, the dropping of packets has noticeable impacts on time-sensitive streams like streaming media, because it takes time for the drop to be noticed and retransmitted. With ECN support enabled, the router sets two bits in the data packets that indicate to the receiver it is experiencing congestion (but not yet fully choked). The receiver in turn lets the sender know that a router is facing congestion and then the sender lowers its transmission rate by some amount. If the router is still congested, it will set the bits again, and eventually the sender will slow down even more. The advantage of this approach is that the router does not get full enough to drop packets, and thus the sender does not have to lower the transmission rate significantly to cause serious delays in time-sensitive streams; nor does it risk severe under-utilization of bandwidth. Without ECN, the only way routers can tell hosts anything is by dropping packets. ECN is like Random Early Drop, except that the packets are marked instead of dropped. The only caveat is that both sender and receiver, as well as all intermediate routers, have to be ECN-friendly. Any router along the way can prevent the use of ECN if it considers ECN-marked packets invalid and drops them (or more typically the whole connection setup fails because of a piece of network equipment that drops connection setup packets with ECN flags set). Routers that don't know about ECN can still drop packets normally, but there is some ECN-hostile network equipment on the Internet. For this reason, ECN is disabled by default. It can be enabled via the netsh interface tcp set global ecncapability=enabled command.

In previous versions of Windows, all processing needed to receive or transfer data over one network interface was done by a single processor, even in a multi processor system. With supported network interface adapters, Windows Vista can distribute the job of traffic processing in network communication among multiple processors. This feature is called Receive Side Scaling. Windows Vista also supports network cards with TCP Offload Engine, that have certain hardware-accelerated TCP/IP-related functionality. Windows Vista uses its TCP Chimney Offload system to offload to such cards framing, routing, error-correction and acknowledgement and retransmission jobs required in TCP. However, for application compatibility, only TCP data transfer functionality is offloaded to the NIC, not TCP connection setup. This will remove some load from the CPU. Traffic processing in both IPv4 and IPv6 can be offloaded. Windows Vista also supports NetDMA, which uses the DMA engine to allow processors to be freed from the hassles of moving data between network card data buffers and application buffers. It requires specific hardware DMA architectures, such as Intel I/O Acceleration to be enabled.

Compound TCP is a modified TCP congestion avoidance algorithm, meant to improve networking performance in all applications. It is not enabled by default in the pre-Service Pack 1 version of Windows Vista, but enabled in SP1 and Windows Server 2008. It uses a different algorithm to modify the congestion window – borrowing from TCP Vegas and TCP New Reno. For every acknowledgement received, it increases the congestion window more aggressively, thus reaching the peak throughput much faster, increasing overall throughput.

Windows Vista's networking stack includes integrated policy-based Quality of Service (QoS) functionality to prioritize network traffic. Quality of Service can be used to manage network usage by specific applications or users, by throttling the bandwidth available to them, or it can be used to limit bandwidth usage by other applications when high priority applications, such as real time conferencing applications, are being run, to ensure they get the bandwidth they need. Traffic throttling can also be used to prevent large data transfer operations from using up all the available bandwidth. QoS policies can be confined by application executable name, folder path, source and destination IPv4 or IPv6 addresses, source and destination TCP or UDP ports or a range of ports. In Windows Vista, QoS policies can be applied to any application at the Network Layer, thus eliminating the need to rewrite applications using QoS APIs to be QoS-aware. QoS policies can either be set on a per-machine basis or set by Active Directory Group policy objects which ensures that all Windows Vista clients connected to the Active Directory container (a domain, a site or an organizational unit) will enforce the policy settings.

Windows Vista supports the Wireless Multimedia (WMM) profile classes for QoS in wireless networks as certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance: BG (for background data), BE (for Best Effort non real time data), VI (for real time videos) and VO (for real time voice data). When both the wireless access point as well as the wireless NIC supports the WMM profiles, Windows Vista can provide preferential treatment to the data sent.

Windows Vista includes a specialized QoS API called qWave (Quality Windows Audio/Video Experience), which is a pre-configured Quality of Service module for time dependent multimedia data, such as audio or video streams. qWave uses different packet priority schemes for real-time flows (such as multimedia packets) and best-effort flows (such as file downloads or e-mails) to ensure that real time data gets as little delays as possible, while providing a high quality channel for other data packets.

Applications have to explicitly use the qWave APIs to use the service. When the multimedia application requests qWave to initiate a new media stream, qWave tries to reserve bandwidth using RSVP. At the same time, it uses QoS probes to make sure the network has enough bandwidth to support the stream. If the conditions are met, the stream is allowed, and prioritized so that other applications do not eat into its share of bandwidth. However, environmental factors can affect the reception of the wireless signals, which can reduce the bandwidth, even if no other stream is allowed to access the reserved bandwidth. Due to this, qWave continuously monitors the available bandwidth, and if it decreases, the application is informed, creating a feedback loop, so that it can adapt the stream to fit into the lower bandwidth range. If more bandwidth is available, qWave automatically reserves it and informs the application of the improvement.

For probing the quality of the network, probe packets are sent to the source and statistics (such as round trip time, loss, latency jitter etc) of their path analyzed and the results are cached. The probe is repeated after specific time intervals to update the cache. Whenever the stream is requested, the cache is looked up. qWave also serializes creation of multiple simultaneous streams, even across devices, so that probes sent for one stream are not interfered by others. qWave uses client side buffers to keep transmission rate within range of the slowest part in the network, so that the access point buffers are not overwhelmed, thus reducing packet loss.

In order to provide better security when transferring data over a network, Windows Vista provides enhancements to the cryptographic algorithms used to obfuscate data. Support for 256-bit and 384-bit Diffie-Hellman (DH) algorithms, as well as for 128-bit, 192-bit and 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is included in the network stack itself. Direct support for SSL connections in new Winsock API allows socket applications to directly control security of their traffic over a network (such as providing security policy and requirements for traffic, querying security settings) rather than having to add extra code to support a secure connection. Computers running Windows Vista can be a part of logically isolated networks within an Active Directory domain. Only the computers which are in the same logical network partition will be able to access the resources in the domain. Even though other systems may be physically on the same network, unless they are in the same logical partition, they wont be able to access partitioned resources. A system may be part of multiple network partitions.

A planned feature in the new TCP/IP suite known as "Routing Compartments", utilized a per-user routing table, thus compartmentalizing the network according to the user's needs, so that data from one segment would not go into another. This feature however was removed before the release of Windows Vista, and is slated to be included possibly in a future release of Windows.

Windows Vista also introduces Network Access Protection (NAP), which makes sure that computers connecting to a network conform to a required level of system health as has been set by the administrator of the network. With NAP enabled on a network, when a Windows Vista computer attempts to join a network, it is verified that the computer is up-to-date with security updates, virus signatures and other factors, including configuration of IPsec and 802.1x authentication settings, specified by the network administrator. It will be granted full access to the network only when the criteria is met, failing which it may be either denied access to the network or granted limited access only to certain resources. It may optionally be granted access to servers which will provide it with the latest updates. Once the updates are installed, the computer is granted access to the network. However, Windows Vista can only be a NAP client, i.e., a client computer which connects to a NAP enabled network. Health policy and verification servers have to be running Windows Server 2008.

Windows Vista also includes an Extensible Authentication Protocol Host (EAPHost) framework that provides extensibility for authentication methods for commonly used protected network access technologies such as 802.1X and PPP. It allows networking vendors to develop and easily install new authentication methods known as EAP methods.

IPsec configuration is now fully integrated into the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security snap-in and netsh advfirewall command-line tool to prevent contradictory rules and offer simplified configuration along with an authenticating firewall. Advanced firewall filtering rules (exceptions) and IPsec policies can be setup such as by domain, public, and private profiles, source and destination IP addresses, IP address range, source and destination TCP and UDP ports, all or multiple ports, specific types of interfaces, ICMP and ICMPv6 traffic by Type and Code, services, edge traversal, IPsec protection state and specified users and computers based on Active Directory accounts.

Prior to Windows Vista, setting up and maintaining IPsec policy configuration in many scenarios required setting up a set of rules for protection and another set of rules for traffic exemptions. IPsec nodes in Windows Vista communicate while simultaneously negotiating protected communications and if a response is received and negotiation completes, subsequent communications are protected. This eliminates the need to set up IPsec filters for exemptions for the set of hosts that do not or cannot support IPsec, allows setting up required incoming protected initiated communication and optional outgoing communication. IPsec also allows securing traffic between domain controllers and member computers, while still allowing clear text for domain joins and other communication types. IPsec protected domain joins are allowed if using NTLM v2 and if both, the domain controllers and member computers are running Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista respectively.

IPsec fully supports IPv6, AuthIP (which allows for a second authentication), integration with NAP for authenticating with a health certificate, Network Diagnostics Framework support for failed IPsec negotiation, new IPsec performance counters, and improved detection of cluster node failure and faster renegotiation of security associations. There is support for stronger algorithms for main mode negotiation (stronger DH algorithms and Suite B) and data integrity and encryption (AES with CBC, AES-GMAC, SHA-256, AES-GCM).

The ability to assist the user in diagnosing a network problem is expected to be a major new networking feature. There is extensive support for runtime diagnostics for both wired and wireless networks, including support for TCP Management information base (MIB)-II and better system event logging and tracing. The Vista TCP/IP stack also supports ESTATS which defines extended performance statistics for TCP and can help in determining the cause of network performance bottlenecks. Windows Vista can inform the user of most causes of network transmission failure, such as incorrect IP address, incorrect DNS and default gateway settings, gateway failure, port in use or blocked, receiver not ready, DHCP service not running, NetBIOS over TCP/IP name resolution failure etc. Transmission errors are also exhaustively logged, which can be analyzed to better find the cause of error. Windows Vista has a greater awareness of the network topology the host computer is in, using technologies such as Universal Plug and Play. With this new network awareness technology, Windows Vista can provide help to the user in fixing network issues or simply provide a graphical view of the perceived network configuration.

The Windows Vista network stack includes Windows Filtering Platform, which allows external applications to access and hook into the packet processing pipeline of the networking subsystem. WFP allows incoming and outgoing packets to be filtered, analyzed or modified at several layers of the TCP/IP protocol stack. Because WFP has an inbuilt filtering engine, applications need not write any custom engine, they just need to provide the custom logic for the engine to use. WFP includes a Base Filtering Engine which implements the filter requests. The packets are then processed using the Generic Filtering Engine, which also includes a Callout Module, where applications providing the custom processing logic can be hooked up. WFP can be put to uses such as inspecting packets for malware, selective packet restriction, such as in firewalls, or providing custom encryption systems, among others.

Windows Vista includes support for peer-to-peer communication and includes implementation of peer-to-peer protocols out-of-the-box. It also includes a new version of the Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRPv2), which is faster and more scalable. Windows Vista also includes a peer-to-peer API for name resolution and secure Group creation. Peer-to-peer networking functionality can be accessed from the Winsock API as well. The peer-to-peer networking subsystem can also discover other people running the same service in the local subnet, using a feature dubbed People Near Me and integrate with Windows Contacts to store their information. This facility can be used to develop ad-hoc collaborative applications, such as Windows Meeting Space. Peer-to-peer networking settings are configurable through netsh p2p and Group Policy.

A feature called Windows Internet Computer Names (WICN) based on PNRP allows any computer connected to an IPv6 network to get a unique domain name. If the computer is connected to the Internet, users can easily specify a secured or unsecured host name for their computer from a console command and their computer can be easily accessible from any remote computer, without requiring to register a domain name and configuring a dynamic DNS. Windows Internet Computer Names can be used in any application that accepts an IP address or DNS name. PNRP performs all the domain name resolution at the peer-to-peer level.

PNRP also allows creating an overlay network called a Graph. Each peer in the overlay network corresponds to a node in the graph. Nodes are resolved to addresses using PNRP. All the nodes in a graph share book-keeping information responsible for the functioning of the network as a whole. For example, in a distributed resource management network, which node has what resource needs to be shared. Such information is shared as Records, which are flooded to all the peers in a graph. Each peer stores the Record to a local database. A Record consists of a header and a body. The body contains data specific to the application that is using the API; the header contains metadata to describe the data in the body as name-value pairs serialized using XML, in addition to author and version information. It can also contain an index of the body data, for fast searching. A node can connect to other nodes directly as well, for communication that need not be shared with the entire Graph. The API also allows creation of a secure overlay network called a Group, consisting of all or a subset of nodes in a Graph. A Group can be shared by multiple applications, unlike a Graph. All peers in a Group must be identifiable by a unique named, registered using PNRP, and have a digital signature certificate termed as Group Member Certificate (GMC). All Records exchanged are digitally signed. Peers must be invited into a Group. The invitation contains the GMC that enables it to join the group.

Another planned feature in Windows Vista would have taken advantage of peer-to-peer technology to provide a new type of domain-like networking setup known as a Castle, but this did not make it into the release version. Castle would have made it possible to have an identification service, which provides user authentication, for all members on the network, without a centralized server. It would have allowed user credentials to propagate across the peer-to-peer network, making them more suitable for a home network.

The new Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) 3.0 has a new feature called Neighbor Casting which supports peer-to-peer file transfers within a domain. This facilitates peer caching, allows users to download and serve content (such as WSUS updates) from peers on the same subnet, receive notification when a file is downloaded, access the temporary file while the download is in progress, and control HTTP redirects. This saves bandwidth on the network and reduces performance load on the server. BITS 3.0 also uses Internet Gateway Device Protocol counters to more accurately calculate available bandwidth.

The HTTP kernel mode driver in Windows Vista, Http.sys has been enhanced to support server-side authentication, logging, IDN hostnames, Event Tracing and better manageability through netsh http and new performance counters. WinINet, the protocol handler for HTTP and FTP handles IPv6 literal addresses, includes support for Gzip and deflate decompression to improve content encoding performance, Internationalized domain names support and Event Tracing. WinHTTP, the client API for server-based applications and services supports IPv6, AutoProxy, HTTP/1.1 chunked transfer support, larger data uploads, SSL and client certificates, server and proxy authentication, automatic handling of redirects and keep-alive connections and HTTP/1.0 protocol, including support for keep-alive (persistent) connections and session cookies. Winsock has been updated with new APIs and support for Event Tracing. Winsock Layered Service Provider support has been enhanced with logged installations and removals, a new API for reliably installing LSPs, a command to reliably remove LSPs, facilities to categorize LSPs and to remove most LSPs from the processing path for system critical services and support for Network Diagnostics Framework.

Winsock Kernel (WSK) is a new transport-independent kernel-mode Network Programming Interface (NPI) for that provides TDI client developers with a sockets-like programming model similar to those supported in user-mode Winsock. While most of the same sockets programming concepts exist as in user-mode Winsock such as socket, creation, bind, connect, accept, send and receive, Winsock Kernel is a completely new programming interface with unique characteristics such as asynchronous I/O that uses IRPs and event callbacks to enhance performance. TDI is supported in Windows Vista for backward compatibility.

A new version of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol has been introduced with Windows Vista. A significant improvement over SMB support in prior versions of Windows is the ability to compound multiple actions into a single request, which significantly reduces the number of round-trips the client needs to make to the server, improving performance as a result. SMB1 also has a compounding mechanism (known as AndX) to compound multiple actions, but is rarely used by Microsoft clients. Larger buffer sizes are supported, also increasing performance with large file transfers. The notion of "durable file handles" is introduced, which allow a connection to an SMB server to survive brief network outages, such as with a wireless network, without having to construct a new session. Support for symbolic links is included as well. In SMB 1, various sizes in the protocol are 16 bits. Many have been changed to 32 or 64 bit, and in the case of file handles to 16 bytes.

SMB2 reduces the 'chattiness' of the protocol by reducing the number of commands and subcommands to 19 from over 100. It has mechanisms for pipelining, that is, sending additional requests before the response to a previous request arrives. Other improvements include caching of file properties, improved message signing with HMAC SHA-256 hashing algorithm and better scalability by increasing number of users, shares and open files per server among others.

Windows Vista and later operating systems use SMB 2.0 when communicating with other machines running Windows Vista or later. SMB 1.0 continues in use for connections to any previous version of Windows, or to Samba. Samba 4 also includes experimental support for SMB 2.0.

The second benefit is a clean break. Microsoft's SMB1 code has to work with a huge variety of SMB clients and servers. A large number of items in the protocol are optional (such as short and long filenames), there are many infolevels for commands (selecting what structure is returned to a particular request), Unicode was a later addition etc. With SMB2 there is significantly reduced compatibility testing (currently only other Windows Vista clients and servers). Additionally the code is a lot less complex since there is far less variability (e.g. there is no need to worry about having Unicode and non-Unicode code paths as SMB2 requires Unicode support).

Remote Differential Compression (RDC) is a client-server synchronization protocol allows data to be synchronized with a remote source using compression techniques to minimize the amount of data sent across the network. It synchronizes files by calculating and transferring only the differences between them on-the-fly. Therefore, RDC is suitable for efficient synchronization of files that have been updated independently, or when network bandwidth is small or in scenarios where the files are large but the differences between them are small. The Offline Files feature in Windows Vista makes use of the technology for the first time, allowing files that grow usually large in size such as Microsoft Outlook personal folders (.PST) to be made available offline with minimal traffic.

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Development of Windows Vista

Screenshot of Windows Vista Beta 1 (Build 5112)

Development of Windows Vista occurred over the span of five and a half years, starting in earnest in May 2001, prior to the release of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, and continuing until November 2006.

Microsoft originally expected to ship the new version sometime late in 2003 as a minor step between Windows XP (codenamed "Whistler") and "Blackcomb". Vista's original codename, "Longhorn", was an allusion to this plan: While Whistler and Blackcomb are large ski resorts in British Columbia, Longhorn is the name of a bar between the two mountains that Whistler's visitors pass to reach Blackcomb. Gradually, "Longhorn" assimilated many of the important new features and technologies slated for "Blackcomb", resulting in the release date being pushed back a few times. Many of Microsoft's developers were also re-tasked with improving the security of Windows XP. Faced with ongoing delays and concerns about feature creep, Microsoft announced on August 27, 2004 that it was making significant changes. "Longhorn" development basically started afresh, building on the Windows Server 2003 codebase, and re-incorporating only the features that would be intended for an actual operating system release. Some previously announced features, such as WinFS and NGSCB, were dropped or postponed.

After "Longhorn" was named Windows Vista in mid-2005, an unprecedented beta-test program was started which involved hundreds of thousands of volunteers and companies. Between September 2005 and October 2006, Microsoft released regular Community Technology Previews (CTP) to beta testers, and two release candidates to the general public. Development of Windows Vista came to a conclusion with the November 8, 2006 announcement of its completion by co-president of Windows development, Jim Allchin.

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 focus was more strongly focused on Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003, which was released in April 2003. 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 prior to the first sanctioned development release of Longhorn in May 2003, is derived from these builds.

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 "Build 3683.Lab06_N.020923-1821". Higher build numbers didn't 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 own 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, a number of "Build labs" exist where the compilation of the entirety of Windows can be performed by a team. The lab in which any given build originated is shown as part of the build label, and the date and time of the build follows that. Some builds (such as Beta 1 and Beta 2) only display the build label in the version information dialog (Winver).

Build 3663 (build date of July 28, 2002) was the first known build with some leaked screenshots. It was the first sighting of the "Plex" style which Microsoft regarded as a place-holder theme for their development versions, until they were ready to demonstrate Aero. Screenshots of Build 3670 (build date of August 19, 2002) also showed a variation of the Device Manager implemented inside Windows Explorer.

Build 3683 (build date of September 23, 2002) was leaked on October 20, 2002, and was the first Longhorn build leaked to the Internet. This build was the first of several that had a working title of "Longhorn XP Professional". Visually it was not significantly different from Windows XP, incorporating aesthetic changes and a few new user interface options. A new "Sidebar" was also present, which contained many of the gadgets that would much later be seen in Windows Sidebar, such as an analog clock, slide show, and search capability. An option in this version of the sidebar also made it possible to move the Start button into it, and disable the traditional taskbar entirely. An early revision of WinFS was also included, but very little in the way of a user interface was included, and as such it appeared to early testers to be nothing more than a service that consumed large amounts of memory and processor time. The "Display Properties" control panel was the first significant departure, being built on the new "Avalon" API.

Build 3706 (build date of October 29, 2002) was leaked on May 22, 2006. It was one of the first builds to include the Desktop Window Manager (DWM), and the Desktop Composition Engine, which later became known as the Media Integration Layer. This build appeared on the Internet long after other builds from this time period, and included several of the changes that were first reported as being part of later milestone builds, including Internet Explorer 6.05 and the "Plex" theme.

Build 3718 (build date of November 19, 2002) was leaked on April 30, 2004. It included the DWM and some early hardware-accelerated alpha transparency and transition effects. As a demonstration of the DCE's capabilities, programs literally flipped into the taskbar and twisted as they were minimized.

After several months of relatively little news or activity from Microsoft with Longhorn, Build 4008 (with a build date of February 19, 2003) made an appearance on the Internet around February 28, 2003. It was also privately handed out to a select group of software developers. As an evolutionary release over build 3683, it contained a number of 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 of 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 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.

Build 4015 (build date of March 28, 2003) was leaked to the Internet on April 28, 2003. A number of features Microsoft had been working on were rolled into this build, such as a range of parental controls, a lot of additional configurability for the sidebar (including being able to put it below the start bar at the bottom of the screen), and the notion of "Libraries" (later known as virtual folders) of files. These libraries collected content from around the hard drive. The user could then filter this content and save it in a folder. Microsoft had originally intended to replace all special shell folders (My Documents, My Music, etc.) with virtual folders. However, this change was deemed too drastic and was dropped after Beta 1's release in mid-2005. This build was also notable for the debut of the boot screen progress bar that is seen in the final release (though 4015's version was blue, not green). A new Download Manager shell location suggested that Internet Explorer would get a Mozilla-style download manager, though no such functionality was apparent. Significant memory leak problems with Windows Explorer and the Sidebar made this build difficult to use, which resulted in some third-party hacks to mitigate the problem. The back-end database of Outlook Express changed completely, and became dependent on WinFS to store its email. WinFS itself still had significant performance and memory usage issues, and so it became common for testers to disable WinFS entirely, thus rendering Outlook Express inoperative.

At the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) conference in May 2003, Microsoft gave their first public demonstrations of the new Desktop Window Manager and Aero. The demonstrations were done on a revised build 4015 which was never released. A number of 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 2005" release date.

Build 4028 (build date of July 1, 2003) was the first known Server build, and was based on Windows Server.NET RC1, which later became Windows Server 2003. Traditional client bits, such as visual style and look, were present but disabled by default. Build 4029 (build date of June 19, 2003), was leaked on September 23, 2003. This build contained few of the technologies new to build 4015. Windows Explorer went through a number of other changes. Larger image and video previews were displayed in a tooltip when the mouse hovered over a file, column-level filtering of results was introduced, and overall performance of Explorer was somewhat improved over build 4015, though the memory leak issues were not entirely resolved. There was also a new analog clock user interface. Batch image processing of images was also introduced, making it possible for a user to rotate a number of images at once.

Build 4029's name was displayed as "onghornLay rofessionalPay" (Pig Latin for Longhorn Professional) in various places around the operating system. While some had presumed that screenshots of this build were fake because of this seemingly obvious mistake, Microsoft later explained that this was merely a test of some new code to locate and reduce the number of places in the operating system code that the name was defined.

Build 4033 (build date of July 17, 2003) was similar to 4029, but contained some UI improvements, including an updated Plex theme.

Build 4039 (build date of August 27, 2003) was leaked on August 22, 2007. This build includes Phodeo, a 3D view of displaying photos and full DWM and glass.

Build 4042 (build date of September 9, 2003) was probably the first build to have the Slate theme instead of the Plex theme seen in the previous builds. However, the Aero glass from Build 4039 was still present.

This build also contained an updated version of Internet Explorer with a version number of 6.05. New features noted by reviewers included a Download Manager, pop-up blocker, add-on manager and a tool to clear browsing history. With the exception of the download manager, which was eventually discarded, these features all appeared in builds of Internet Explorer included with preview builds of Windows XP Service Pack 2 a few months later.

Build 4053 (build date of October 22, 2003) was leaked on March 2, 2004 and had some minor changes.

Build 4066 (build date of February 26, 2004). Although this build identified itself as a "Server" build, it contained many of the features only ever seen and associated with desktop builds. An updated version of Phodeo was included, as well as the Sidebar, a Mini-Windows Media Player and associated sidebar tiles, a functioning build of the Desktop Window Manager and the Jade theme. This build was leaked on December 20, 2008.

Build 4074 (build date of April 25, 2004) - Official WinHEC 2004 preview build. Leaked in May 2004. This build introduced a new Jade theme, and replaced many XP icons with new Longhorn icons. Also, the font Segoe UI was introduced for the Jade theme.

In May 2004, Microsoft changed its plans to include the Next-Generation Secure Computing Base technology with Longhorn. The technology, better known by its original code-name of "Palladium", had garnered much criticism from analysts, security specialists and researchers, and was often cited by advocates of non-Microsoft operating systems as a reason to migrate to their preferred platform. Ross Anderson, for example, published a paper, collating many of these concerns and criticisms as part of a larger analysis on Trusted Computing. In light of a large amount of negative response not only from analysts, but enterprise customers and software developers, Microsoft shelved many aspects of the NGSCB project for an indefinite period of time. The only aspect of NGSCB that was included with the final release of the operating system is "BitLocker", which can make use of a Trusted Platform Module chip to facilitate secure startup and full-drive encryption.

Build 4083 (build date of May 16, 2004) - Leaked on November 10, 2004, and was the last leaked 64-bit Server 2003 RC1-based build. Both Sidebar and WinFS were dropped from this release. Considered highly unstable, including the absence of programs in the start menu and driver and installation issues.

Build 4093 (build date of August 19, 2004) - The last leaked 32-bit Server 2003 RC1-based build. Considered highly unstable. Contained Sidebar, WinFS, and an Avalon-based Windows Movie Maker. Also, there was an Avalon based Display Properties control panel applet hidden in the \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 folder similar to the one in Build 3683.

In a September 23, 2005 front-page article on 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 was "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. In December 2003, Allchin 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 2003, and the latter having spent his career at Microsoft researching and developing methods of producing high-quality testing systems. Srivastava employed a team of core architects to visually map out the entirety of the Windows operating system, and to proactively work towards a development process that would enforce high levels of code quality, reduce interdependencies between components, and in general, "not make things worse with Vista". These things, in conjunction with the fact that many of Microsoft's most skilled developers and engineers had been working on Windows Server 2003, led to the decision to "reset" development of Longhorn, building on the same code that would become Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, instead of the older Windows XP. This change, announced internally to Microsoft employees on August 26, 2004, 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. Changes at the build labs also resulted in a period of time of several months where no builds of Longhorn were leaked onto the Internet.

Build 3790 (build date of September 7, 2004) is notable, as it was the first build of Longhorn based on the Server 2003 codebase, but with the Windows XP interface. Successive internal builds over several months gradually integrated a lot of the fundamental work that had been done over the previous three years, but with much stricter rules about what code could be brought into the main builds. Builds in this period of time were described variously as Longhorn "D1", and as Milestone 8 / 9, depending on whether the new or old build tree was being worked on. Evidence of a similar build marked as Build 5000 (built one day later) has also been found.

Build 5048 (built on April 1, 2005) was the official WinHEC 2005 preview build, described as the Longhorn Developer Preview, and made available to WinHEC attendees on April 24, 2005. It was the only build from this time period that was made available by Microsoft; it was not officially distributed outside of WinHEC, but the build quickly appeared on file sharing networks. The Aero visual style made its first appearance in this build, and the Desktop Window Manager was present but disabled and hidden by default. At the keynote presentation, Bill Gates also announced that many of the WinFX developer APIs that were originally planned exclusively for Longhorn were going to be backported to Windows XP and Server 2003, and that the final user interface for Longhorn would not be seen for a while longer. Other features such as device-independent resolutions, rasterized icons, virtual folders, and registry virtualization were discussed as well.

Build 5048's closer resemblance to Windows XP than to the prior Longhorn builds from 2003 surprised many, leading well-known Windows enthusiast Paul Thurrott to write: "My thoughts are not positive, not positive at all. This is a painful build to have to deal with after a year of waiting, a step back in some ways. I hope Microsoft has surprises up their sleeves. This has the makings of a train wreck." Months later, Thurrott stated that the Vista development process has since recovered in the more recent builds.

Build 5060 (build date of April 17, 2005) Not much difference to Build 5048, except it had a new style logon screen.

Windows Vista Beta 1 (build 5112, build date of July 20, 2005) was released on July 27, 2005, and was available to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet subscribers as well as a select group of Microsoft Beta testers.

Compared with the WinHEC build released earlier in the year, Vista Beta 1 was a large advancement in introducing new user interface features. The Windows Shell was drastically changed yet again, introducing virtual folders, a new search interface, a number of new high-resolution icons, and a revamped Windows Explorer interface which did away with the menus and most of the toolbar buttons that were present in previous versions. Beta 1 also introduced many of the underlying technologies slated for Vista, including the new networking and audio stacks, parental controls, and fairly complete working build of .NET Framework 3.0, then still referred to as WinFX.

Build 5219 (build date of August 30, 2005), Microsoft started releasing regular Community Technical Previews (CTP) to beta testers, with less stability work made to them than actual betas. Build 5219, also known as CTP1 and September CTP, was distributed among 2005 PDC attendees on September 13, 2005, and has been released to Microsoft Beta testers and MSDN subscribers. This was the first public "Ultimate Edition" build, and included Smart Fetch. Although not enabled by default, this refresh saw the return of the Windows Sidebar, which had been removed as part of the development reset, and the introduction of Desktop Gadgets, both of which are part of Microsoft gadgets line of mini-applications. Microsoft stated that they intended to make additional gadgets available for download from a web site over time. This build also supported a new version of Windows Media Center code-named "Diamond".

Although Microsoft had stated that WinFS will not make its debut in Windows Vista, users of build 5219 noticed that WinFS was in fact included in that version. Several Windows 'rumor' sites and newsgroups such as Neowin and Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows speculated that WinFS would in fact be ready on time for Windows Vista's release.

Build 5231 (build date of October 4, 2005), also known as CTP2 or the October 2005 CTP, was released to MSDN subscribers and Microsoft Beta Testers on October 17, 2005. This "Ultimate" build introduced Windows Media Player version 11.Paul Thurrot stated that he hated Windows Media Center in this build.

Build 5259 (built on November 17, 2005) was released to TAP members on November 22, 2005. It was originally announced to be released on November 18 as a November CTP. Microsoft cancelled the November CTP due to its instability, however, and released this build only to TAP members. Sidebar was temporarily removed; the build had a few new UI changes, including the ability to change the color and clarity of the UI. Windows AntiSpyware (soon to be "Windows Defender") was integrated. Also, this build featured an updated version of Windows Mail. It was an IDW build and therefore had not gone through the CTP testing process. It leaked to the Internet on December 7, 2005.

December CTP (built on December 14, 2005 with a build number of 5270), was released to testers and MSDN on December 19, 2005 and was very close to feature-complete. Since then, the feature complete build was delayed until late January, 2006. In this build, Windows AntiSpyware was renamed Windows Defender, and IE7 had a new icon/logo. There were some minor UI changes.

February CTP (built on February 17, 2006 with a build number of 5308), was released on February 22, 2006 and was the first feature-complete CTP. This build was meant for enterprises. It was also the first build to have the upgrade compatibility. This build, according to Microsoft, had all but one feature (which should appear in the next CTP) that customers will see in the final release. However, later builds brought more improvements than previously expected. An unstaged revision was made to this build and was released on February 28, 2006 as build 5308.60 (built on February 23), which was released as a result of Windows Server "Longhorn" having many issues.

At the Intel Developer Forum on March 9, 2006, Microsoft announced a change in their plans to support EFI in Windows Vista. The UEFI 2.0 specification (which replaces EFI 1.10) was not completed until early 2006, and at the time of Microsoft's announcement, no firmware manufacturers had completed a production implementation which could be used for testing. As a result, the decision was made to postpone the introduction of UEFI support to Windows; support for UEFI on 64-bit platforms was postponed until Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 and 32-bit UEFI will not be supported, as Microsoft does not expect many such systems to be built as the market moves to 64-bit processors.

February CTP Refresh (built on March 21, 2006 with a build number of 5342) was released March 24, 2006. This build was shipped to technical beta testers and some corporate customers by Microsoft and was being used as a testing board for the extensive feedback they got from the February CTP. They described this release as an "External Developer Workstation", with the intent of providing an interim build between CTPs. Microsoft claimed it was still on track to deliver the next CTP in the second quarter, the build that will be the last in the Beta 2 fork. The build included minor UI changes, most notably improvements to the Media Center, new Aero and Aurora effects, a faster setup process, some new Sidebar gadgets, and slight improvements in overall performance and stability. Paint was also slightly improved, there's a new screenshot snapping/saving tool included, and a slightly redesigned Network Center. This build did not meet CTP quality measurements, and was available only in Ultimate Edition, for both 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) systems.

April EDW (built on April 19, 2006 with a build number of 5365), which was released on April 21, 2006, introduced more changes to visual user interface elements, and to the behavior of User Account Control. A number of new backgrounds were also introduced, and two new screensavers were added as well. The Sidebar was enabled by default, as was automatic defragmentation of the hard drive. Hold'em, a game that shipped with some previous CTPs, was dropped due to apparent "political sensitivity" issues; Microsoft now offers it as a separate web download for Windows Vista Ultimate users.

Windows Vista Beta 2 Preview (built on May 1, 2006 with a build number of 5381) leaked on May 3, 2006 and was officially released on May 6, 2006 to Microsoft's technical beta testers. It featured mostly performance tweaks and only a few minor changes compared to build 5365. With this build, Microsoft entered Beta 2 "escrow".

Windows Vista Beta 2 (built on May 18, 2006 with a build number of 5384), was released to Microsoft Developer Network subscribers (the first since 5308) and Microsoft Connect testers on May 23, 2006 in conjunction with Bill Gates's keynote presentation at the WinHEC 2006 conference. On June 6, Microsoft extended the availability of Beta 2 to all users, making Vista available as a free download in several languages from their web site. Some technology web sites described this release as "the largest download event in software history".

In June, Microsoft made two significant changes to their plans for Windows Vista. One issue, the inclusion of XML Paper Specification support in Vista and Microsoft Office 2007, had become a major point of dispute with Adobe Systems. When it was first introduced May 2005, XPS (known at the time as "Metro") was characterized as a "PDF-killer", but an Adobe representative stated that they were "not threatened" by its addition to "Longhorn". However, a year later, Adobe had changed their stance, and saw the inclusion of the new document format as an anti-competitive attack on their Portable Document Format. While Microsoft refused to remove XPS altogether, noting that it is at the core of Vista's print spooling system, they have offered the ability to system builders and OEMs to remove any user-visible aspects of the document format from the operating system. A few days later, it was announced that PC-to-PC Sync would not ship with Windows Vista.

On June 14, 2006, 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. " The same post also described Windows Vista as having approximately 50 million lines of code, with about 2,000 developers working on the product.

Build 5456 (build date of June 20, 2006) was released on June 24, 2006. Some of the new features included a revamped Aero subsystem, and a completely overhauled and significantly less obtrusive User Account Control interface. "List view" in Windows Explorer was brought back, after having been removed in Beta 1. Microsoft developer Ben Betz later explained in a blog entry that, while they felt that removing List mode made sense based on usability research and its inability to support Windows Explorer's new "grouping" feature, the feature was restored based on a great deal of feedback from beta testers.

The release notes for the build state that the Time Zone bug that plagued almost all previous builds of Windows Vista had been patched, and quite a few issues in the Regional Settings and IME had also been resolved. A new "Windows Aero" mouse pointer scheme was introduced, which introduced anti-aliasing to the mouse pointer for the first time, and many of the remaining Windows XP-style icons have been replaced with new icons. The disk space used by a clean installation was also significantly reduced.

Build 5472 (build date of July 13, 2006) was released on July 17, 2006. Aside from incorporating a number of bug fixes and localization improvements, the build also introduced a revised "Basic" theme that replaces the gray theme seen in previous builds with a light blue theme. The Network Center was significantly revised as well, collating more status information in one place, and reducing the number of steps to get to most configuration options. More desktop backgrounds and icons were introduced, and Flip3D saw some layout tweaks. A new "Windows Aero" mouse cursor is set by default. The build was a huge performance improvement over Beta 2 and was comparable to and possibly even faster than that of Windows XP.

During a demonstration of the speech recognition feature new to Windows Vista at Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting on July 27, 2006, 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". A developer with Vista's speech recognition team later explained that there was a bug with the build of Vista that was causing the microphone gain level to be set very high, resulting in the audio being received by the speech recognition software to be "incredibly distorted".

On August 8, 2006 the Microsoft Security Response Center provided "critical" security fixes for Windows Vista beta 2, making it the first Microsoft product to get security updates while still in beta.

Build 5536 (build date of August 21, 2006) was released on August 24, 2006, and between August 29 and August 31 to the first 100,000 users who downloaded it from the Microsoft site. Among notable changes, it featured new ties to the Windows Live online services by new icons in the Welcome Center, minor updates to the Aero appearance with a slightly more bluish tint to the glass effect, big speed improvements (including setup speed), many bug fixes and further tweaked anti-aliasing in the Flip 3D feature. It was released publicly on August 29, 2006.

Release Candidate 1 (RC1) (built on August 29, 2006 with a build number of 5600.16384) was released to a select group of beta testers on September 1, 2006. On September 6, RC1 was released to MSDN and Technet subscribers, as well as registered Customer Preview Program (CPP) members with Beta 2 PID's. On September 14, Microsoft re-opened the CPP to new members. The CPP ended on November 26, 2006.

Build 5700 (build date of August 10, 2006), the first build of the RTM branch, was shown at the Student Day Presentation of Microsoft Tech-Ed 2006 in Australia. It appeared to run faster than the previous Pre-RC1 build 5472 with a few UI improvements. A higher build number does not necessarily indicate a newer build. Microsoft began work on the RTM branch at the same time as it was wrapping up the RC1 branch, allowing for mainstream RC1 developers to more easily "flow" into the new development stage. This parallel development helps explain why build 5700 is older than even some pre-RC1 builds.

Build 5728 (build date of September 17, 2006) was released on September 22, 2006 to technical beta participants. The following day, Microsoft released a 32-bit version of the build to the public, with a 64-bit version arriving on September 25. On October 1, Microsoft reached its goals for program participation and no longer offered the build to the public. In response to a significant amount of feedback from RC1 testers, 5728 contained many improvements, one of which was the inclusion of a check box in the Sound properties that allowed the user to disable the Windows Vista startup sound. The Welcome Center was also improved with new icons, eliminating the use of one icon for several different items, and all of the old icons in the User folder were replaced. With this build, Microsoft neared its goal of Vista installing in 15 minutes, with some reviewers reporting that 5728 took as little as 16 minutes to do a clean install. However, performing an upgrade installation from Windows XP was still slow, sometimes taking more than an hour to complete.

Release Candidate 2 (RC2) (built on October 3, 2006 with a build number of 5744.16384), was released to CPP members, TAP testers, MSDN/Technet subscribers, and other technical beta testers on Friday, October 6, 2006, and was available for download until October 9. Because of an aggressive development schedule, this was the final build that would be officially released to the general public for testing. Nevertheless, all pre-release product keys will work until the final RTM build. Several testers reported that RC2 was faster and more stable than build 5728. However, because RC2, which was a regular interim build, and not a major milestone as the name suggests, was not as rigorously tested as RC1, RC1 may have been more stable in certain situations. This build fixed many compatibility issues that plagued previous builds. Vista's GUI, which continued to be improved, contained some minor tweaks, one of the more prominent of which was the new ability to customize the color, but not the transparency, of maximized windows. In previous builds, windows became predominantly black when maximized, an effect that could not be altered by users. A Control Panel icon for Windows Sideshow was also added.

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 will be introduced; instead, work will focus on Vista's "fit-and-finish". In just a few days, developers had managed to drop Vista's bug count from over 2470 on September 22 to just over 1400 by the time RC2 shipped in early October. However, they still had a ways to go before Vista was ready to RTM. Microsoft's internal processes required Vista's bug count to drop to 500 or fewer before the product could go into escrow for RTM. For most of these builds, only 32-bit versions were released.

Build 5808 (build date of October 12, 2006) was released to TAP testers on October 19, 2006. This build was notable because it was the first build released to testers since Microsoft entered RTM "escrow" with build 5800. This explains why the build numbers jumped from 57xx to 58xx.

Build 5824 (build date of October 17, 2006) was released to a wide number of internal testers later that day in the hope that this build would become the final RTM. However, a catastrophic "show-stopper" bug was found that destroyed any system that was upgraded from Windows XP. Only completely reinstalling Windows would fix the computer.

Build 5840 (build date of October 18, 2006) was made available to internal testers. According to Paul Thurrott, this build did not contain the major bug in build 5824, and testing produced very positive feedback. This build contained a large number of new and final icons, as well as a new set of final wallpapers, including a new default wallpaper based on the Aurora "swoosh" seen in prior builds.

Release to Manufacturing (RTM) (built on November 1, 2006 with a build number of 6000.16386) is the version of Windows Vista that ships to customers. Microsoft announced this build had been finalized on November 8, 2006, after over five years of development.

The RTM's build number jumped to 6000 to reflect Vista's internal version number, NT 6.0. Jumping RTM build numbers is common practice among consumer-oriented Windows versions, like Windows 98 (build 1998), Windows 98 SE (build 2222), Windows Me (b.3000) or Windows XP (b.2600), as compared to the business-oriented versions like Windows 2000 (b.2195) or Server 2003 (b.3790). On November 16, 2006, Microsoft made the final build available to MSDN and Technet Plus subscribers. A business-oriented Enterprise edition was made available to volume license customers on November 30. Windows Vista was launched for general customer availability on January 30, 2007.

Service Pack 1 Beta was only released on Microsoft Connect to selected testers on 2007-09-24. This build was offered optionally through Windows Update through a registry key installed by the tester. This key was later leaked to the net resulting in its deactivation by Microsoft. With this release the build number for Vista jumped to 6001.16659.070916-1443. This build also removed the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) from client computers, to be replaced by a downloadable version at a later date. Also removed was the "Search" menu option from the right hand bar of the start menu (including the option to re-add it from the Start Menu customization list. This build broke the "HP Touch smart" family of applications, and also caused bugs with resuming from sleep, and in some cases rendered some 64-bit PCs with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips unable to finish booting. This build also contained unspecified improvements in Speed and responsiveness of the OS.

Service Pack 1 Release Candidate Preview was only released on Microsoft Connect to selected testers on 2007-11-12. With this release the build number for Vista increased to 6001.17042.071107.1618. Changes in this build are covered by the Microsoft Connect Non-Disclosure agreement (NDA).

Service Pack 1 Release Candidate was first released to Microsoft Connect testers on 2007-12-04, with the same build released on MSDN and TechNet several weeks later. A few days after that, this build was released to the public officially on the Microsoft download center as a Public Preview of SP1. With this release the build number of Vista increased to 6001.17052.071129.2315. This build contained a number of notable changes and enhancements.

Service Pack 1 Release Candidate Refresh was released on Microsoft Connect to selected testers on 2008-01-09 and was released to the public on January 11, 2008. This release has a build number of 6001.17128.080101.1935.

Service Pack 1 Release Candidate Refresh 2 was only released on Microsoft Connect to selected testers on 2008-01-24 through Windows Update only. This release has a build number of 6001.18000. Details of this build are covered by the Microsoft Connect Non-Disclosure agreement (NDA).

Service Pack 1 was released to manufacturing on Monday February 4th, 2008. The final build of Service Pack 1 went live on Tuesday, March 18, 2008, over the Microsoft Download Center, and Windows Update. This build has been confirmed by sources at Microsoft as being exactly the same code as RC Refresh 2, also giving it the exact same build number. The full build string of both this release and Refresh 2 is "6001.longhorn_rtm.080118-1840".

Build 6001.18063 (release date of June 24, 2008). Microsoft Released KB952709 as a Reliability and Performance update for Windows Vista this build is notable for two reasons. First, This is the first publicly released update that increases Vista build number beyond the 6001.18000 (final) build of Service Pack 1. Second, this build replaces the 6001.longhorn_rtm.080118-1840 build string of SP1 with 6001.vistasp1_gdr.080425-1930. The longhorn build string was present during the early development of Vista but was not seen in the official release build or any update after until it was reintroduced during the SP1 beta and was left in when SP1 was released, this build marks its removal from the only release version of Vista to contain the longhorn codename in a prominent manner.

Microsoft started work on Service Pack 2 soon after Service Pack 1 was released, as Windows Server 2008 uses the same codebase as Windows Vista Service Pack 1. Service Pack 2 is the first service pack to be released for both Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista simultaneously, sharing the same binary.

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Pre-Beta Build Number 6002.16489.lh_sp2beta.080924-1740 (Version 105) Released in October, 2008.

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Beta Build Number 6002.16497.081017-1605 (Version 113) Released December 4, 2008. Download became available in the Microsoft Download Center.

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 RC Escrow Build Number 6002.16659.090114-1728 (Version 275) Released January, 2009.

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Release Candidate Build Number 6002.16670.090130-1715 (Version 286) Released February, 2009.

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Source : Wikipedia