With the release of Windows Vista RC1, Microsoft has also announced pricing for the various editions of Vista:
For the home user, the editions and prices are as follows:
And for the Businesses, the editions and prices are as follows:
So let's take a look at these editions in a little more detail.
Windows Vista Home Basic is the operating system for homes with basic computing needs. It is easy to set up, it helps you use your PC more securely and reliably, and like all of the editions of Windows Vista, it is compatible with the widest range of software, devices, and services that you use and trust. If you simply want to use your PC for tasks such as surfing the Internet, corresponding with friends and family using e-mail, or performing basic document creation and editing tasks, then Windows Vista Home Basic will deliver a safer, more reliable, and more productive computing environment. The features in Windows Vista Home Basic also form the foundation of all of the other editions of Windows Vista, including Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate.
Windows Vista Home Premium is the operating system for homes with advanced computer needs. It will help you use your laptop or desktop PC more effectively as well as enable you to enjoy new, exciting digital entertainment experiences - all with the benefit of added security and reliability. Whatever you choose to do with your home PC, Windows Vista Home Premium will deliver a more complete and satisfying computing experience.
Windows Vista Ultimate is the most comprehensive edition of Windows Vista. It is the first operating system that combines all of the advanced infrastructure features of a business-focused operating system, all of the management and efficiency features of a mobility-focused operating system, and all of the digital entertainment features of a consumer-focused operating system. For the person who wants one operating system that is great for working from home, working on the road, and for entertainment, Windows Vista Ultimate is the operating system that lets you have it all.
The Windows Vista Business operating system is designed to meet the needs of business organisations of all sizes. For small businesses, Windows Vista Business will help keep PCs running smoothly and more securely so you will be less reliant on dedicated IT support. For larger organisations, Windows Vista Business provides dramatic new infrastructure improvements, enabling your IT staff to spend less time focused on the day-to-day maintenance of PCs and more time adding strategic value to your organization. Windows Vista Business also offers powerful new ways to organise, find, and share information while staying better connected whether you are in the office or on the road. This helps your business to run more efficiently than ever before.
To better address the needs of large, global organisations and those with highly complex IT infrastructures, Microsoft will introduce a new version of Windows - Windows Vista Enterprise - designed to significantly lower IT costs and risk. In addition to all of the features available in Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise is designed to provide higher levels of data protection using hardware-based encryption technology. It also includes tools to improve application compatibility and enables organisations to standardize by using a single worldwide deployment image. Windows Vista Enterprise will only be available to customers who have PCs covered by Microsoft Software Assurance or a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement.
This information, and more, can be found over at the Vista Editions page, on Microsoft.com.
The guys and girls over at Microsoft Research have been busy working away on a new prototype framework for Internet Explorer, called BrowserShield, which promises to allow IE to intercept and remove, on the fly, malicious code hidden on Web pages, instead showing users safe equivalents of those pages.
According to the article over at eWeek,"The BrowserShield project—the brainchild of Helen Wang, a project leader in Microsoft Research's Systems & Networking Research Group, and an outgrowth of the company's Shield initiative to block network worms—could one day even become Microsoft's answer to zero-day browser exploits such as the WMF (Windows Metafile) attack that spread like wildfire in December 2005"
And this technology can provide an extra layer of security, even on other browsers, perhaps in the form of a BrowserShield-enabled toolbar, helping to protect the millions of web-surfers out there from themselves. Essentially, BrowserShield is "tool for deleting embedded scripts before a Web page is displayed on a browser" which can inspect both static and dynamic content, rewriting HTML code, on the fly, to deny any attempt to execute harmful code on browsers.
"BrowserShield is one of many security-related projects coming out of Microsoft Research. The research unit's Cyber-security and Systems Management group has found success with a project called Strider HoneyMonkey that trawls the Internet looking for Web sites hosting malicious code. Microsoft Research also has worked on a tool called Strider URL Tracer that looks for large-scale typo squatters; Strider GhostBuster, a rootkit scanner that looks for stealthy forms of malware; Strider Search Defender, a project that pinpoints search engine spammers; and Strider Gatekeeper, a spyware management utility"
Make sure you have a read of the full article, over at eWeek and this article on Microsoft Research for further information. Go-Do!
Microsoft has just released the Beta 2 of Windows Media Player 11 which now allows users to share content with multiple devices around the home, and also includes additional music stores; eMusic, VidZone and Music Giants. The article goes on to say that previous beta's of Windows Media Player 11 have had favourable reviews, and from my personal experience, I'd say they are fully justified - Windows Media Player 11 is an excellent piece of software and makes finding and playing music effortless. The new beta also offers improved integration with URGE, MTV's music service.
But how does WMP11 for Windows XP, differ from that of WMP11 for Vista? Here are the answers you may be looking for.
You can download the new Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 - here. Go-Do!
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I found a great article over in the Business and Technology section of the Seattle Times which really highlights how Microsoft is helping to change lives with Windows Vista.
The article is about a girl, Logan Olsen, who at 16 years old, suffered a brain injury which made tasks such as tying her shoes a challenge.
"Olson is on the computer constantly, typing out ideas, researching seasonal fashions and corresponding with writers and advertisers to assemble the upcoming premiere issue of a lifestyle magazine for young women with disabilities. But the loss of fine-motor skills means her fingers can't keep pace with her mind"
However, with the release of Windows Vista, and in particular, the Speech Recognition software included within Vista, Microsoft have made great strides in assisting people with disabilities. The article goes on to say that, on a recent visit to Microsoft, the now 21 year old Logan, had the chance to test the Speech Recognition software, and after only a brief setup, the system was recognising her words despite her speech impairment. The Speech Recognition is just one of dozens of features in Vista to make it easier for people with disabilities.
"Some 57 percent of U.S. computer users between 18 and 64 were likely or very likely to benefit from the use of accessible technology, according to a 2003 Forrester Research study commissioned by Microsoft"
In Windows XP, "Accessibility Options" are found under a green wheelchair icon in the computer's Control Panel which kept many who don't consider themselves disabled from finding things that could make their system easier and more comfortable to use however in Vista, the images are found in an "Ease of Access" center (See image at top), which uses everyday terminology to make things easier for the users to configures their settings for their machine and the explicit wheelchair icon has been replaced with stylized arrows and dashes, still in the basic shape of a wheelchair.
You can find out more about the accessibility in Windows Vista, by visiting this Microsoft webpage, or you can read the full Seattle Times article.
***** Update *****
There is also a brilliant post by James, entitled "I want my desktop to look beautiful, even if I can't see it" in which James conducts an excellent interview with a colleague of our's here at Microsoft UK; Saqib Shaikh, a developer in Microsoft Consulting Services. One of his main passions is accessibility for computers, because he's blind. Recently he's been working on some Windows Workflow Foundation projects which sound pretty cool. Make sure you take a look at the post, I know you will find it interesting. Nice one James. :-)
For all you Virtual Server fans out there, you'll be pleased to know that the Beta 2 has been released to the public, for you to download and enjoy.
With this release of VS 2005 R2, we can take the opportunity to show some of the cool new features! Also, with the availability of System Center Virtual Machine Manager, which is also in Beta, you can now start to realise the benefits of a Microsoft virtualisation solution.
So, at this stage, what does the Beta 2 give you?
You can download the Beta 2 here. Go-do!
Build 5536, also known as Vista pre-RC1 has leapt onto the Internet, ready for the public to download and enjoy. For about a week now, a closed number of testers have been able to download and test the new operating system, and the feedback is already looking pretty good.
For those of you who are running Vista Beta 2, from a month or so back, now is the ideal time to jump on board with this release - I promise you, you will notice the difference, especially around speed and reliability. I admit, it still isn't perfect, but it's getting better, quickly. You'll have to be quick though, the program will be closed when it reaches 100,000 downloads.
Get along to the download site to start downloading straight away! you can download it in two ways:
Bear in mind, that you can only download the 32-bit version for now, and it comes in ISO format, so your DVD-Burning skills will need to be up to scratch to take advantage of your huge download!
In an article over at TechWeb; "Our goal in offering this build publicly is to help identify and track issues before RC1 is designated for release," wrote Nick White, a Vista product manager, on the group's blog. "Despite being so close to the actual release date of RC1, the download, installation and usage feedback you send us on this build is still extremely important, otherwise, we'd not be spending resources on this interim build."
Makes sense really!
If you can't wait for the full RC1, then get over to the download site and get yourself in the RC1 action!
I recently wrote an article all about virtualisation, and it has been published on Microsoft.com! The article was written with our partners in mind, with the aim of giving the reader the opportunity to gain an understanding of what virtualisation is, the forms it can take, and how it can benefit you.
The article covers:
You can view the whole article by visiting this link! Enjoy!
I'm now off to start work on my auto-biography, which should be in shops soon! ;-)
A big thanks goes to Jeff Woolsey, one of the Lead Program Manager's here at Microsoft, for compiling this excellent list of the top 15 questions asked around Virtual Server. Without further ado, lets start with number 15...
15 - Is it true that Virtual Server 2005 R2 EE is now FREE?
Yes, that is indeed correct. Virtual Server 2005 R2 EE has been free since April 2006. We have had more than 340,000 downloads to date. If you are interested in discovering the benefits of virtualisation, through Virtual Server, head on over to http://www.microsoft.com/virtualserver.
14 - I’ve just installed Virtual Server. Where are my virtual machines and operating systems?
Virtual Server is an enabling technology and product. Virtual Server provides the virtualisation layer giving you the ability to run multiple virtual machines on top of a Windows Server host. Once you’ve installed Virtual Server, you must create virtual machines and install operating systems just as if someone gave you a computer with a completely blank hard drive. Virtual Server does not include guest operating systems.
13 - How do you back up virtual machines?
There are two ways to backup a virtual machine. Each method has pros and cons and users can determine which method best suits their business requirements.
Method 1Backup each virtual machine from within each guest operating system. Install the backup software in the guest operating system and backup each virtual machine in the same way you would a physical computer.The advantages to this method are:
The disadvantages to this method are:
Method 2Backup all virtual machines from the host operating system. The second method is to backup the Virtual Server host. You can backup the entire host computer and all virtual machines at once, but this can only be performed on stopped/saved virtual machines. The downside is that this is not a “live” backup. You MUST shutdown or save state the virtual machine to perform the backup. To backup the host operating system without stopping/saving a virtual machine would be like pulling the power code on a physical computer and then making a copy of the HD. The HD might boot next time but checkdisk would certainly need to run and it is likely there is corrupt user data.
The issue is that when a backup is performed on the host, this operation backs up files on disk but does not include the memory in use by the running virtual machine. For example, if you allocated 2GB to a virtual machine and backed up the host operating system, there is potentially 2GB of virtual machine data not backed up! To safely backup a virtual machine, the entire state of the virtual machine must be backed up which includes:
It is possible that someone could automate this process. For example, a script could be written to save the state of the virtual machines and backup the host operating system, but such a script is not included with the product.
The advantage to this method is that:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Method 2 is not recommended if you’re running a domain controller in a virtual machine. If you are using a domain controller in a virtual machine, always use Method 1. For more information on using a domain controller within Virtual Server, see the following whitepaper: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=64db845d-f7a3-4209-8ed2-e261a117fc6b&DisplayLang=en
12 - How many virtual machines can you run per physical processor?
There is no one size fits all answer to this question. There are simply too many variables. Performance of virtual machines depends on a multitude of factors including, but not limited to:
As a broad generality, we’ve heard of people using anywhere between 1 to 10 virtual machines per physical processor with the average being 4 to 6. (In the case of 10 virtual machines, these were very lightly loaded NT servers.) However, as stated above the number of virtual machines really depends on the multitude of factors above.
11 - Can you run a domain controller within a Virtual Server virtual machine?
Yes. For detailed information on using a domain controller within Virtual Server, see the following whitepaper: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=64db845d-f7a3-4209-8ed2-e261a117fc6b&DisplayLang=en10.
10 - Do we have performance tips for Virtual Server?
Of course! - Visit KB: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;903748
9 - What Microsoft products are supported within Virtual Server?
KB: 897613 Microsoft Virtual Server Support Policy: http://www.support.microsoft.com/kb/897613
KB: 897614 Windows Server System software not supported within a Microsoft Virtual Server environment: http://www.support.microsoft.com/kb/897614
8 - Are additional versions of Virtual Server planned?
Yes. We are working on the next release of Virtual Server. It is called, Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 and is publicly available in beta form today at http://www.microsoft.com/virtualserver.
Some of the key points of this release include:
7 - I’ve heard that Virtual Server 2005 R2 now supports clustering, where can I find more information?
You can find the information by following this link. The document describes a simple configuration in which you use Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 to configure one guest operating system, and configure a server cluster that has two servers (nodes), either of which can support the guest if the other server is down.
6 - Does Virtual Server support Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) in the guest?
No, unfortunately not. Microsoft have publicly stated that this will be providing this feature in our next generation, Windows Virtualisation.
5 - Does Virtual Server support USB?
No, unfortunately not. Again, we have stated publicly that we are working on this feature for our next generation, Windows Virtualisation.
4 - Does Virtual Server support 64-bit hosts and guests?
Virtual Server 2005 R2 adds support for x64 64-bit hosts. Unfortunately, Virtual Server does not support 64-bit guests. We have already stated publicly that we will provide this feature in our next generation, Windows Virtualisation.
3 - What is Windows Virtualisation? When does it arrive?
Windows Virtualisation is virtualisation technology incorporated into Longhorn Server. The current plan of record for Windows Virtualisation is that it ships within 180 days of the Longhorn Server release.
2 - What will I need to run Windows Server Virtualisation? What are the system requirements?
Windows Server Virtualisation has the following system requirements:
To be explicit, Windows Server Virtualisation will NOT run on:
1 - What are some of the key differences between Virtual Server R2 and Windows Server Virtualisation?
Virtual Server 2005 R2
Yes, up to 8 core VMs
VM memory support?
3.6 GB per VM
More than 32 GB per VM
Hot add memory/processors?
Hot add storage/networking?
Can be managed by SCVMM?
Number of running VMs?
More than 64.As many as hardware will allow.
MMC 3.0 Interface
Thanks again to Jeff Woolsey for this information.
With High Definition gathering momentum, I think it is important to clarify where Windows Vista stands in this space, as over the past few days, there has been some confusion about what will or won't be possible with Vista and High Definition disk formats.
Basically, a couple of days ago, it was highlighted on the internet, that 32-bit Vista would not support either HD-DVD or Blu-Ray - it would only be supported on 64-bit hardware running 64-bit Vista. The reasoning behind this? "At a session during TechEd 2006 in Sydney Thursday, Microsoft's Steve Riley asserted that because 32-bit versions of Windows must support unsigned drivers being loaded into the kernel, the company could not ensure that HD movies would be copy protected".
However, a day later, Microsoft took the chance to clarify the situation. As it stands, according to Nick White, Vista Product Manager:
"The real deal is that no version of Windows Vista will make a determination as to whether any given piece of content should play back or not. The individual ISV providing the playback solutions will choose whether the playback environment, including environments that use 32-bit processors, meet the performance requirements for playback of protected High Definition content"
For those of you like me, who haven't embraced the world of High Definition yet (give me chance! ;) ), it's good to know that standard DVD support will be included in the Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista, which means consumers will not need to purchase third party software to play movies as they do with Windows XP. So for the time being, I can be safe in the knowledge that the impeccable Windows Media Player 11 will play my standard format DVD's. Great stuff!
If you are running Windows Media Player 10, and haven't tried Windows Media Player 11 yet - what are you doing! It's currently in the beta and is available for download! Go do!
A couple of days ago, in a publicly available invitation, Microsoft offered help to Mozilla, (who oversee development of the Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird email client) to ensure compatibility between their products, and Windows Vista.
The article goes on to say that "Microsoft is committed to evolving our thinking beyond commercial companies to include open-source projects". Personally, I believe this is a great move from Microsoft. We accept that not everyone wants to use Internet Explorer, and at the same time, we know that choice is important, so if people want to use other browsers, we want to ensure those browsers work with our software and systems. The article states "it remains to be seen whether Mozilla and the open-source community will respond positively" yet, on the 24th August, Mozillla accepted the invitation.
Mozilla have already been doing some testing on Vista, and have been working to ensure that they take advantage of the new 'Default Program' infrastructure in Vista. Default Program is a new feature Microsoft has added to Vista to avoid the problem of applications taking over common functions, such as playing music or browsing the Web, from each other. Rather than letting competing applications fight, it will give the user a single interface for deciding which programs should do which jobs. I believe this a great addition to Vista, and really simplifies the task of deciding what programs you want to perform specific tasks.
In the Default Programs window, you can either set all the defaults for a program, i.e. for Windows Media Player 11, you can use the program to open all file types and protocols that it can actually open, or alternatively, you can go into selecting the individual defaults that the program should open. If need be, you can override the Default Program for a particular file type, by right-clicking on the file in question, and selecting 'Open with' and selecting your program appropriately.
As an interesting final point...
"Both Microsoft and Mozilla appear keen to bury the idea that the two are warring tribes when it comes to open source. This recent move by Microsoft to openly welcome Mozilla and its browser, even though Firefox is the principle competition for its own Internet Explorer, appears to be part of a new trend for the company"
Speaking of browsers, Microsoft has just released the RC1 of IE7, which you can download from here.