To print: Click here or Select File and then Print from your browser's menu -------------------------------------------------------------- This story was printed from ZDNet News, located at http://news.zdnet.com -------------------------------------------------------------- By Ina Fried URL: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-5805696.html Microsoft has passed a major milestone with the release of its first full test version of Windows Vista, the next generation of its flagship operating system. As earlier reported, Microsoft is making available a beta version of Windows Vista to some testers. The software, released Wednesday, is being offered now to about 10,000 testers and will be available shortly to about 500,000 people who are members of Microsoft's MSDN developer program or its Technet program for corporate technology workers. Microsoft said last week that it would have a test version available by Aug. 3. At the same time, the company announced the Windows Vista name for the operating system, which had been known by its Longhorn code name. General availability of Vista is scheduled for next year. Though Microsoft has included a more complete version than past developer preview releases, the company stressed that Beta 1 is not aimed at the masses. "Beta 1 is not what I would call deeply interesting, unless you are a real bithead," Windows chief Jim Allchin said in an interview. "This beta isn't really for even tech enthusiasts. This beta is to test out some of the capabilities that we've got, if you will, in the plumbing." The product boasts some of the key features expected to debut with Windows Vista, including new searching and organizing abilities, a redesigned start menu and an update to the Internet Explorer browser. However, other features, such as improved management capabilities for laptops and better photo and video handling, are not expected until later test releases. The test version also contains evidence of work Microsoft has been doing to make it easier to turn off a Windows PC without fully shutting down, as well as other new abilities, such as connecting to a network-connected projector for presentations or making changes to Windows settings without permanently logging in as an administrator. Many of the other changes are even deeper under-the-hood shifts designed to make it easier for businesses to manage and deploy large numbers of PCs. Beta 1 includes a "task scheduler" that can be set to kick in when a particular condition arises, (when, for example, disk space gets low and MP3 files need to be deleted). And though the interface is not necessarily indicative of what the final Windows Vista desktop will look like, Beta 1 does contain some of the "glass" windows and transitions that will be part of the operating system's new look and feel. Windows Vista is scheduled to ship in its final form in time to be on PCs that sell during next year's holiday shopping season. The company has not set a time frame for the second beta version, but a more modest update to Beta 1 is planned for Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference in September. That's likely to be the first in a number of interim updates that Microsoft releases in between its major Beta versions. "We plan to make interim builds more broadly available than we have previously," Sullivan said. Along with the test version of the new Windows, Microsoft is also making available to the same group of testers a beta version of Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP. The test version includes support for tabbed browsing and the ability to view Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. Microsoft lead product manager Greg Sullivan said Microsoft is not planning for a downloadable version of IE 7 to be made publicly available until Beta 2. "We'll really be ready to do broader end user testing around Beta 2," Sullivan said. The company has not said when that version will arrive. The IE 7 beta for Windows XP also features a new antiphishing feature designed to protect users from known scams and potentially malicious sites. The phishing protections will also be part of the final Vista browser, but they're not part of Beta 1 of Windows Vista. For sites Microsoft knows to be reported phishing sites, IE will display a warning screen rather than going directly to the site. A message will appear that says the site is recognized as a phishing-scam site and that recommends users "not continue to this Web site." A dialog box suggests users close the Web page but also lets them continue on if they choose. Sites that are not known to be scam sites but that appear questionable are labeled as "suspicious," with a yellow box in the upper right hand corner, near the Web address. Deep inside the operating system are two key changes to the way Windows works. One, a new Web services architecture code-named Indigo, has been renamed the Windows Communication Foundation. The company has also renamed the Avalon graphics engine, which is now known as the Windows Presentation Foundation. Both are part of Beta 1 of Windows Vista, and Microsoft also plans to make both available separately as add-ons to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Microsoft is also testing an early beta of Longhorn Server, the next version of its server operating system, which is not expected to arrive in final form until 2007.