TECH NOUS : Windows to the World

Five years is long time in technology marketing terms, so it’s understandable that Microsoft is now keen to roll out its latest offering which will be marketed under the brand name Vista.
Windows Vista has been undergoing Beta 2 testing since May to iron out potential bugs, along with the 2007 Microsoft Office system and the next version of Windows Server (code-named ‘Longhorn’). It is the first time the company has simultaneously released test versions of all three of its flagship products.
A Beta 3 release is also expected – with final roll-out tipped for late this year.
Microsoft sums up the focus of the new release like so:
“They are designed to help businesses empower their people to manage waves of information and contribute to bottom-line success in four key areas – simplifying how people work together; enabling better content protection and management; finding information and improving business insight; reducing IT costs and improving security.”
Log onto www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/features for an update of what to expect with the Vista operating system – such as the new faster Start Menu, the Explorers tools, live taskbar thumbnails, and Windows Flip and Flip 3D. The latter allows you to flip through open windows (by using Alt+Tab), providing live thumbnail of each window, rather than just generic icon and file name.
Meanwhile 2007 Microsoft Office has new user interface – results-oriented design replacing the traditional menus and toolbars – that “enables people to focus on what they want to do rather than how to do it”.
The new user interface features ‘the Ribbon’, which consists of tabs displaying the commands most relevant for each of the task areas in each application. As an example, Word 2007 has tabs for writing, inserting, page layout, working with references, creating mailings and reviewing documents.
There are other smart user interface features – like the contextual tabs. Select or insert an object (picture, table, text box or chart) in, say, Powerpoint and the tabs for modifying that object automatically appear in the Ribbon.
The Office Button replaces the old File menu and accesses tools for working with document, spreadsheet, presentation or database once it has been created. It also has features for finalising the work, sharing it with others or participating in workflow process.
You should also approve of the Galleries experience – instead of complex dialogue box with numerous options, it provides set of visual options. Live Preview shows the potential results of Gallery selection within the document before it is actually applied.
Understandably, it may take some time and practice to master all this new functionality – but I’m sure it will be worth it. And one day we’ll wonder how we ever coped with such dinosaur as XP.


HOW QUAINT
Even though Microsoft had released its very first Windows operating system (Version 1.0) seven years earlier, Version 3.0 was the one the world cut its teeth on. Today’s youngest generation of computer users would no doubt be amused by the basic look and functionality of Version 3.0’s user interface, but in 1990 it was considered very advanced – significant catch-up on Apple’s market-leading operating system at the time.
Version 3.0 offered improved performance, advanced graphics with 16 colours, and full support of the Intel 386 processor which was considered state-of-the-art back then.
Like many people I had been introduced to desktop computing through various Apple Macintosh computers, and my first Windows experience came after neighbourhood burglar lifted my beloved LC-111. The subsequent Intel-powered PC replacement came with Windows 95 already loaded.
The much-heralded yet much-delayed Windows 95 operating system was big step up from its predecessor and pretty soon Microsoft gained dominance over the world’s operating system market, trotting out succession of top-class products including Windows NT, Windows 98 (also available as second edition), the Millennium edition, and Windows 2000.
Then in 2001 Microsoft merged its two Windows operating system lines for consumers and businesses, uniting them around the Windows 2000 code base. The result was Windows XP (XP stands for eXPerience) Home and Professional versions – an operating system that we’ve all come to know and love over the past five years, and one that had its security levels beefed up considerably with Service Pack 2.

• Glenn Baker is regular contributor to Management. [email protected]

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