ARTICLES IN THE BOOK
A GUIDE TO WINDOWS VISTA
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Windows "Vienna" (formerly known as Blackcomb) is a codename for a future version of Microsoft Windows, originally announced in February 2000, but has since been subject to major delays and rescheduling. Microsoft now announced it will be released in 2009, and according to a magazine called "Smart Computing In Plain English", work on it began right after Windows Vista came out. As of February 2007, the name of the operating system used internally is undisclosed and is not used publicly by Microsoft, though "Windows 7" has been noted in job postings as a working name for the project.
Microsoft has refrained from discussing the details about "Vienna" publicly as they focus on the release and marketing of Windows Vista, though some early details of various core operating system features have emerged at developer conferences such as Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in 2006.
The code name "Blackcomb" was originally assigned to Windows NT 6, an operating system that was planned to follow Windows XP (codenamed "Whistler;" both named after the Whistler-Blackcomb resort). Blackcomb would be the successor to both the desktop/workstation-oriented Windows XP (Windows NT 5.1) and the server-oriented Windows Server 2003 (Windows NT 5.2). In late 2001 the release of Blackcomb was being scheduled for 2005 and in August it was announced that a minor intermediate release, Vista (codenamed "Longhorn" after a bar in the Whistler Blackcomb Resort), would ship in 2002 to update the Windows NT 5.x line. Over the following years Longhorn morphed in fits, starts, and delays to incorporate many of the features promised for Blackcomb and was eventually designated as Windows NT 6. The status of the operating system dubbed "Blackcomb," however, was shrouded in confusion with some reports suggesting that plans for Blackcomb were scrapped while others claiming that it would be the monicker for a server-only Windows 6.x release. More likely, the codename "Blackcomb" was discarded as no longer being in the spirit of its original intent (i.e., to describe Windows NT 6). At the present, it is believed that Windows Vista's successor (referred to here as Windows "Vienna") is being planned as both a client and server release with a current release estimate of late 2009, although no firm date or year has yet been publicized. A recent article provided from Yahoo!News projected the release date to be closer to 2009.
At first, internal sources pitched Blackcomb as being not just a major revision of Windows, but a complete departure from the way users today typically think about interacting with a computer. For instance, the "Start" philosophy, introduced in Windows 95, may be replaced by the "new interface" which was said in 1999 to be scheduled for "Vienna" (before being moved to Vista ("Longhorn") and then back again to "Vienna"). While Windows Vista was intended to be an evolutionary release, Vienna was targeted directly at revolutionizing the way users of the product interact with their PCs. However, the situation has now changed. Windows Vista, which was expected to be a minor release became a major release, when it was released five years after the release of Windows XP. Windows "Vienna" will become a minor release, and is currently planned to be released two years after Windows Vista.
On February 9, 2007, Microsoft's Ben Fathi claimed that the focus on the operating system was still being worked out, and could merely hint at some possibilities:
"We're going to look at a fundamental piece of enabling technology. Maybe it's hypervisors, I don't know what it is" [...] "Maybe it's a new user interface paradigm for consumers."
—Ben Fathi, Windows Core Operating System Division Vice President
Bill Gates, in an interview with Newsweek, also suggested that the next version of Windows would "be more user-centric." When asked to clarify what he meant, Gates said:
"That means that right now when you move from one PC to another, you've got to install apps on each one, do upgrades on each one. Moving information between them is very painful. We can use Live Services to know what you're interested in. So even if you drop by a [public] kiosk or somebody else's PC, we can bring down your home page, your files, your fonts, your favorites and those things. So that's kind of the user-centric thing that Live Services can enable. [Also,] in Vista things got a lot better with [digital] ink and speech but by the next release there will be a much bigger bet. Students won't need textbooks, they can just use these tablet devices. Parallel computing is pretty important for the next release. We'll make it so that a lot of the high-level graphics will be just built into the operating system. So we've got a pretty good outline."
Several other features originally planned for Windows Vista may be part of "Vienna", depending on when they are finished.
"Vienna" will also feature the sandboxed approach discussed during the Alpha/White Box development phase for Longhorn. All non-managed code will run in a sandboxed environment where access to the "outside world" is restricted by the operating system. Access to raw sockets will be disabled from within the sandbox, as will direct access to the file system, hardware abstraction layer (HAL), and complete memory addressing. All access to outside applications, files, and protocols will be regulated by the operating system, and any malicious activity will be (theoretically) halted immediately. If this approach is successful, it bodes very well for security and safety, as it is virtually impossible for a malicious application to cause any damage to the system if it is locked inside a metaphorical 'glass box.' As well, this sand boxed environment will be able to adapt itself to the code base it was written for. This will alleviate most problems that arise from back compatibility when a new operating system is made.
Another feature mentioned by Bill Gates is "a pervasive typing line that will recognize the sentence that [the user is] typing in." The implications of this could be as simple as a "complete as you type" function as found in most modern search engines, (e.g. Google Suggest) or as complex as being able to give verbal commands to the PC without any concern for syntax. The former has been incorporated to an extent in Windows Vista.
Microsoft has stated that "Vienna" will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit for the client version, in order to ease the industry's transition from 32-bit to 64-bit computing. Vienna Server is expected to support only 64-bit server systems. There will be continued backward compatibility with 32-bit applications, but 16-bit Windows and MS-DOS applications will not be supported, as has been the case since the 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. However, Paul Thurrott claims in his Supersite for Windows, that according to Microsoft's x64 migration schedule, Windows Vienna will almost certainly only ship in 64-bit editions.
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