Windows Longhorn, now known by its final name, Windows Vista, took its first highly visible development step today, entering widespread beta testing. Windows Vista Beta 1 was released this morning to manufacturing, and will be distributed to IT pros, analysts, and the press this week.
Microsoft's Brad Goldberg, General Manager for the Windows client, noted that what's new in Windows Vista Beta 1 over previous pre-release editions is largely focused on IT functionality, including security, deployment, manageability, reliability and diagnostics. Most of the major end-user changes are not scheduled to be incorporated until Beta 2.
TechWeb obtained a late pre-release of Beta 1 last week, and we've been testing it for several days now. Microsoft also briefed the press last week on some areas where we can expect to see changes, both in Beta 1 and later in Beta 2.
Microsoft also posted a handful Windows Vista Beta 1 images on its PressPass Web site. They don't tell the whole story, but you might find them interesting.
At Last, Internet Explorer 7.0
Among the more evident improvements from Windows XP is the inclusion of Internet Explorer 7.0 with real tabbed browsing. IE7 includes basic configuration options for tabbed browsing (such as an on/off setting), and an easy way to click to get a new tab window. Although a few more tab-browsing configuration options and mouse-click shortcuts might have been preferred by IE users, the basic functionality as shown in the Beta 1 pre-release is at least as good as Firefox's plain-vanilla tab-browsing features.
IE 7.0 adds some anti-phishing/anti-spoofing security features, which include an easy way to check the validity of an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Web site's security certificate, user account protection for the browser, and automatic receipt of browser updates.
IE 7.0 will also display warning information on its status bar about possible scams being launched from a Web site, such as phishing activities. And if you're nervous about what's in your cache, there's a new one-click means of removing all your personal caching history from the browser cache.
The Internet Explorer 7.0 beta for Windows XP is being released at the same time as IE7 for Windows Vista. Some of the features in the Vista version of IE 7.0, including automatic browser updating and user account protection, will not be available in the XP version, since they rely on Vista functionality.