Advancing the Platform and Windows Beta 2

Bill Gates' keynote speech gives us a broad sweeping overview of the general message Microsoft wants to get out through WinHEC: the Microsoft platform is key in the development and delivery of any computing hardware. Whether you love him or hate him, Gates is absolutely correct. The heavy investment required in actually bringing consumer level computing hardware to market requires access to the largest pool of users possible, and currently Microsoft is where it's at.

In order to continue the trend, Microsoft needs to stay on top of emerging technologies. Right now, Windows XP lags woefully behind Apple's OSX in terms of interface design and productivity features. With Vista, Microsoft needs to show they can still compete with quality rather than simply quantity. In order to make it clear that Microsoft is aware of its situation, Gates spent some time going over features that next generation Microsoft products will feature, including everything from 64-bit multi-core computing and virtualization to new user interface designs and productivity enhancements.

As adoption of 64-bit and multicore hardware increases, more and more benefit will come from applications and the operating system taking specific advantage of these features. One of the more interesting ways to utilize take advantage of these features is virtualization of the hardware. Microsoft is heavily pushing virtualization technology at this years WinHEC, dedicating many sessions to the topic. The basic idea is to enable multiple operating systems to run on one computer by allowing each to think it has full control of the hardware.

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Microsoft showed a demo of Redhat Linux running under their new virtualization technology and explained how pervasive they want their interoperability to be. The reasoning behind this isn't altruistic by any means: Microsoft sees virtualization as one of the next big steps in computing, and they want to be the platform of choice for virtualizing hardware. The way they see it, even if a company wants to run a bunch of instances of Linux on one computer, it is a win if Microsoft can design the best platform to make it happen. From the looks of it, Microsoft is well on its way with their in house virtualization support. They demonstrated the capability to hot add devices and even virtual memory to client operating systems with no down time required.

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On the user side, Gates showed off Microsoft's newly announced Beta 2 version of Vista. In addition to rehashing their recently announced newspaper interface, they showed of some of the cool features of Vista and Office. For instance, when editing a presentation, slides can be inserted from other available presentations, which will also be automatically updated if the original is altered. Widgets, like this one for the weather forecast, can sit docked and offer at a glance functionality, or pulled into the foreground and offer extended capabilities.

We will have to wait until Vista is finally released to know whether it will deliver on promises, but for now we are certainly hopeful that this will be a more significant step forward in user interface design than anything we've seen since Windows 95. Stay tuned for more coverage of WinHEC and what's going on in the hardware, driver, and Microsoft world.

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  • etriky - Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - link

    Are we going to see more coverage from WinHEC? Nice article, but short. Seems to be missing a follow up.
  • cornfedone - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - link

    Ya just gotta laugh at the "mushrooms" that show up at WinJIVE to be fed manure from Bill -Yes I'm entitled to STEAL - Gates himself.

    Sheep like to be led down a primrose path.
  • miekedmr - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - link

    An ecological community together with its environment, functioning as a unit.

    1. The science of the relationships between organisms and their environments. Also called bionomics.
    2. The relationship between organisms and their environment.

    Notice that ecosystems have to do with living organisms. There is absolutely no such thing as a "hardware ecosystem." Idiot marketing people need to stop abusing the english language. There are plenty of ways to describe what they are attempting to describe. We don't need to destroy an otherwise good and purposeful word by putting it so out of context.
  • sprockkets - Friday, May 26, 2006 - link

    no mention of the lovely death to drm people hahaha
  • DerekWilson - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    actually, I didn't see them :-(
  • Quiksel - Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - link

    personally, I think it's about time. I'm glad Microsoft is stepping up (if only because they HAVE TO)

    Too bad those widgets are a direct copy of OS X 10.4's. The only original thing about them from the screenshots is the "window" (HA!) view of the weather.
  • raskren - Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - link

    Golly, I wonder where Apple">got that great idea?!
  • Commodus - Thursday, May 25, 2006 - link

    True, Apple grabbed the basic idea from Konfabulator (though that in turn was loosely inspired by Apple's own little utilites from way back when). But it wasn't until after widgets were known to be a feature of Tiger that Microsoft 'mysteriously' changed its sidebar concept to behave much more like Dashboard or Konfabulator.

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