It's not very often that we have a chance to take a look at a new Windows operating system here at AnandTech. Not including the release of Windows XP x64 (the 64-bit version of windows) last year, Microsoft's premier operating system for workstation and home computer use has been Windows XP for nearly 5 years; that's an unprecedented period of time from Microsoft. However, that quiet period is about to come to a close early next year, as Microsoft begins to ramp up for the release of the next version of Windows: Windows Vista.

While Microsoft has been showing off Vista to various beta testers and developers for well over a year, including the first beta version released last July, it has only been since late May when Microsoft released Vista Beta 2 at WinHEC that a version has been available that is functional enough for testing. With the second beta, Microsoft has finally seen fit to release Vista to a wider audience of journalists and (for the first time) consumers, giving everyone a chance to see what is in store when Microsoft releases the final version of Vista next year. As the Vista customer preview version has just been released, we felt it was finally time for us to sit down and mingle with Vista and provide an official preview. We still have some reservations about the operating system, but we'll hold off on any final conclusions until Microsoft actually starts shipping Vista. In the mean time, Microsoft has managed to keep us intrigued with details of their OS that will replace the venerable XP.

For some time now, Microsoft has been in an interesting position of what to do after Windows XP. While Microsoft has had clear goals on what they've needed to deliver for each previous version of Windows, this hasn't been the case for Vista, which is part of the reason that it has taken so long for them to finish developing it. To put things in perspective, Windows 95 brought numerous new features including native 32-bit applications, an improved file system, a functional level of multitasking ability, and most importantly an immensely redefined user interface that made Windows much easier to use. Microsoft was able to follow that up with Windows 98, which added usable USB and AGP support, bringing Plug N Play to external devices and enabling the use of the next generation of graphics accelerators. Finally, with Windows XP, Microsoft ditched the DOS base of Windows and moved home users over to the NT kernel, vastly improving the stability and multitasking abilities of Windows to the level that business users had been enjoying for some time (courtesy of Windows NT/2000).

Herein lies the problem Microsoft has been facing since XP launched: what can you add to a (generally) stable OS that doesn't absolutely need any new hardware support or a user interface overhaul? Microsoft finally believes they have an answer to that problem, and today we'll be taking a look at what Microsoft will be bringing to your computers next year with the launch of Windows Vista. Perhaps for the first time since Windows first started shipping, Microsoft is in a position where they aren't shipping an OS where new technologies will carry it and the OS is just an enabler; instead with Vista the OS itself is the star.

The Many Faces of Windows
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  • rqle - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    dont really need bad memory module, overclock the memory just a tad bit to give errors while keeping the cpu clock constant or known stable clock.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    That still only works if the memory fails. Plenty of DIMMs can handle moderate overclocks. Anyway, it's not a huge deal I don't think - something that can sometimes prove useful if you're experiencing instabilities and think the RAM is the cause, but even then I've had DIMMs fail MemTest86 when it turned out the be a motherboard issue... or simply bad timings in the BIOS.
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, June 17, 2006 - link

    Erm, no. Just overclock and/or use tighter-timings on a known good module beyond the point at which it is 100% stable. It might still seem okay in general usage but Memtest86 will spot problems with it. Now see if Vista's memory tester also spots problems with it. Pretty straightforward to test.
  • xFlankerx - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    I love how I was browsing the website, and I just refresh the page, and there's a brand new article there...simply amazing.
  • xFlankerx - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    Masterful piece of work though. Excellent Job.

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