Write-Ups

25/03/2007

A Little History

November 10, 1983 Microsoft announced that a revolutionary technology was about to change the world, a computer operating system driven by a graphical user interface. Microsoft was optimistic and believed they had the power to shape the future and lead the way in computing technology. Looking back i don’t even think Microsoft knew how successful and revolutionary they would become, since 1990 and the days of windows 3x we have seen leaps in these technologies that impact how we go about our daily lives. Allot of people make the mistake of thinking the Windows platform experience ends when you shut down your personal computer, but little do they know that they are surrounded by products that are run on the Microsoft Operating System, every time you withdraw cash at an ATM your using the windows platform, when taking a photo for your passport in a photo booth, your using the windows platform. These are just two of literally thousands of devices that require the base, that base being Windows. When I tell people that the things they use all the time from ATMs to photo booths and the strangest device I found yet, a Gas pump, all run on windows they find I hard to believe and i think that’s due to the fact they can’t see whets going on beneath hidden away under the hood so to speak that’s why I think that the graphical user interface is such a big part of windows, It’s a standard, you see your start menu and your icons and you instantly know where you are and where you need to go. Just because a photo both has a flashed base application running on a loop in front of you on a touch screen doesn’t mean Windows becomes a non-necessity.

Here we are in 2007, we have seen 8 flagship Windows releases since windows 3x, and now Microsoft are the largest company in the world by far Bill Gates is worth nearly $66 Billion alone and there over 670 million Windows users worldwide. But no one said it was plain sailing for Microsoft over the years they have ran into some legal difficulties, but more importantly problems with their Windows Products. One of the main problems was the lack of security. It was only a few years after Windows XP that Microsoft really woke up a discovered how much of a problem and a threat security was to their products. In the past security was an issue, but not a big one. Sales figures show that Windows XP was a massive success but computer professionals would disagree The windows XP operating system lacked security with hundreds of vulnerabilities and flaws within the operating system, this left the windows operating system wide open to hackers and bugs. After windows XP was released the problems began, security issues were flooding in constantly and Microsoft had to do something fast, But Microsoft couldn’t simply make a new operating system in a few months as this is quite impossible. The only option they had were to be one step ahead of the hackers and release security patches and fixes for their new operating system but sometimes the fixes would take weeks to be released and in 2001 not as many people were aware of how to protect them self’s from online and offline threats, unlike today. Microsoft were in trouble and for the product to continue to sell well they had to do something about security, Enter Service pack 2, service pack to was basically a security cover up a collection of fixes and defenses to prevent threats. In SP2 we even saw a first glimpse of Windows Firewall A sure sign Microsoft were heading in the right direction? Windows XP managed to scrape through but even today Windows XP still has its problems. Windows XP has been on the market for well over 6 years now and as the OS ages i believe that its features and functions become out dated and in some cases features that should be there on release are simply not, for example if you put a DVD video in a Windows XP based machine you will find that you need to download a 3rd party Codec a simple feature but one that would been nice to have at hand. Now normal you could just update your operating system with these new features but due to Windows XP’s bad security situation it made sense for Microsoft to release a new operating system. So in 2005 I was boarded of XP and i was hungry for something fresh and exacting, something future proof and Secure, then I heard about something called Windows Longhorn and I was intrigued into seeing what it’s all about, so I did some research.

“You’re most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” Bill Gates speaking at a technology conference. With this in mind could Microsoft do something based on what the people wanted?, could the average Joe stand up and say Windows would be better if? Well Shorty after the release of Windows XP Microsoft got started on their next major release codenamed “Windows Longhorn”. The Customer feedback and compatibly was an important part of what would make Windows Vista and after a massive feedback & compatibly feature built in to the Windows XP Microsoft were able to collect details on program compatibility and reliability, Plus written feedback from XP users. As always Microsoft’s goals were to make the Windows Experience easier and faster but the main improvement/goal would be security. Microsoft’s original plan was to start from scratch, a fresh new approach from the aging NT Kernel, The first version of longhorn was on its way but tragically Microsoft were forced to pull the whole operation. This was due to the complexness of the plan. Jim Allchin the Vice President in charge of the Windows told Bill Gates that it simply “wasn’t going to work” due to the fact that the idea was so complex. So Microsoft started again and based the code on an updated version of the platform used in Windows Server 2003. Unfortunately due to the time wasted in the first plan this would have a dramatic impact on the release date of Longhorn which was original planed to be released around 2005. In early 2006 I was hyped up about the newly named Windows Vista operating system. I was hearing lots about features especially the brand new revolutionary UI that was hardware driven. After all the hype and rumors I really wanted to find out as much information as I could, I decided to try out a technology chat room to see if I could find any other Vista enthusiasts and there I met a guy called Josh and it turned out he was as mad on Vista as me. Josh gave me a link to a website he had found called Vista Babble apparently it was a great place to find out about Windows Vista so in August 2006 I joined the Vista Babble community and found out about many new things I didn’t know about Vista previously to joining. Naturally this got me even more excited about Vista with software like Internet Explorer and Media Player having new versions but also software I have never heard of before like Photo Gallery, DVD Maker and Windows Defender. Then I looked in to the enhancements in Vista such as ready boost and Superfetch and I was convinced this would be the best Windows release ever……but was I right? I managed to finally get my hands on a BETA version of Windows Vista, I don’t even remember the build number as it was way back in August 2006. I remember starting to download and install Vista that night I didn’t go to bed at all as I was so egger to see what Microsoft had been doing for five years my hopes were high as vista installed I drank as much coffee as possible to keep me awake, it was 4:30AM and I remember Vista starting up. I was hoping all my hardware was compatible and that I might be able to take it for a test spin, after a lengthy install process the operating system appeared and as I saw a first glimpse of the glorious new interface and a nice glass effect wallpaper, and I simply smiled because I knew I was in for something special. Within half an hour I had ran through all the features within Vista and I was overall happy with what I found, It felt new and fresh just like I wanted performance was an issue but I was expecting this in BETA stages, security I couldn’t comment on at this time but I do remember that I had Windows Antispyware preinstalled and advanced firewall settings and I discovered my first vista bad point. I’m talking about UAC (User Account Control) but at the time I dint realize It would be toned down at a later date so I found it quite annoying to think that could be in the final version of Vista. The milestone that was Windows Vista BETA 2 was released September 2006 and I was disappointed, BETA 2 was not only slow but it seemed to have more compatibly problems than previous builds plus not much had been changed feature and bugs wise. The BETA blues hit everyone and knowing BETA 2 was a public build was worrying this would give out the wrong impression to new Vista testers, I hadn’t followed Microsoft this far just to see this product to fail, BETA 2 was later renowned for being a flop.

A few months down the line and I had met some great people on Vista Babble and I was hooked to testing BETAs to see improvements. Things were getting better the UI was getting tweaked bug were being fixed and things were moving on swiftly RC1 was fantastic and a surprise RC2 was even better. I was confident that Microsoft were on track for the Final RTM and the BETA 2 hiccups was all in the past. I knew any day now Microsoft would be setting the launch day and they did January 30th 2007 was V-day and boy was I excited. Launch Day, I thought it would never arrive I watched the event live over a web broadcast and as soon as the big red button was pressed I felt great knowing I was a part of it. I watched it grow and expand into such a wonderful revolutionary product. I’m at the young age of 19 and this was defiantly one of the times I will remember till I’m old, some people may say it’s just an OS and there will be more, but the difference is I know Vista is something special why?? Well there’s the fact that I will be using it till I’m at the age of about 25 years old I’m going to spend all my early 20’s with this product and I know how committed Microsoft were into making this product ‘the one’. They took their time and fixed what needed fixing updated what needed updating polished to make sure the next 10 years will be the most exciting technology decade ever.

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