I have been lucky to get hold of Vista Beta 2 build (The one which was given away at PDC 2005). Have been on it for over a week now. There are quite a few improvements over Beta 1. Let me just brief here on some of them:
While loading up (booting) 5219, I could see a number of functional changes compared to Beta 1.
The most noticible one was of the Taskbar which was kinda translucent (heard of the Glass Effect or Aero Effect) – compared to an opaque black color in Beta 1–and more elegant looking.
Along with this – when you have “Similar Items Group’d Together” enabled – and just when you hover your mouse on the taskbar – you can see a small “preview” image of the window. This is one of the coolest features which got me into the grove of Vista
With build 5219, Microsoft reintroduced a complete new stack of Vista Sidebar (Yeah!! Microsoft does listen to its customers). I really had to found out how to enable it – cause it was disabled by default. Well the best part about the sidebar was that it supports RSS feeds – and I actually got all the RSS feeds from my blog on the sidebar (Now isnt this a cool feature!!)
The build (5219) was a of “Ultimate Edition”. Hence it came with Media Center Edition and also had Tablet PC platform support with it. The Media center was just rocking with nice sound effects and ability to pan/zoom into the images without coding for it :). I believe Microsoft will not have a separate editions of Tablet PC and MC for Vista. They will probably be a part of Ultimate Edition.
With “Ultimate Edition” came a lot more newer games with a great sleeky look. One of them which caught my eye was Chess aka Chess Titians. This one is a cool 3D version of the popular board game and you can play with various skill levels, using different board and piece designs, and against a computer or human opponent. Other ones included were Shanghai and Purple Place. Also the hot and classic windows games like FreeCell, Solitaire, Hearts and Spider Solitaire are included. The best thing about all of them is that they all come with a new ramped up icons.
One of the best features of 5219 was the ALT+TAB key combination which is used to switch between different tasks which are running on your system. With Vista, its been named as “Flip” and has changed to a more visual presentation, that previews the contents of each application’s window as you navigate through the list. 5219 also included a different kind of Task Switching called as “3D Flip” which can be instantiated by hitting Windows Key+Spacebar. When you start this one, task switching opens windows in a stacked, three-dimensional view. Guess this one is lifted wholeheartedly from Sun’s Project Looking Glass.
There was one more intersting feature that would catch any mobile user’s eyes, its called as “Super Fetch”. This feature examines your system on a timely basis, checks which applications you use regularly, and then preloads code from those apps to later speed application launch times and responsiveness. And here is a surprise for all of you who have a USB Stick and use it as their secondary memory. Stick in a 1 GB USB stick and you get 1 GB of super-fast cache RAM (encrypted for security) and an instant speed boost. Now isnt this feature intersting 😉
I couldnt get a chance to work on SafeDocs or UAP (User Account Protection) – will write more on them when I spend more time.