New Vista trial software readied

Microsoft is marking progress in its Vista client. The company launched the third in a series of Windows Vista Community Technical Previews this week that adds new security and performance features.

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Microsoft made available its second Community Technical Preview of the Windows Vista client on Monday, fleshing out information regarding the software's security and performance features.

The software is the third in a series of CTPs that are going to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and Technet subscribers -- a total of about 500,000 testers. Windows Vista is expected to become available sometime in mid- to late 2006. Shanen Boettcher, a senior director in the Windows client group at Microsoft, said he anticipates a feature-complete version of Vista to be available to test by the next CTP, which is due out around February.

With regard to security features, the beta now includes the Windows Defender technology, which removes spyware and other malware from a user's PC. The software also adds the ability to use Group Policy to control removable storage devices, such as a flash drive.

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"This feature gives IT pros a centralized way to block the use of these devices," Boettcher said.

In addition, Microsoft has added support in Internet Explorer for international domain names and bidirectional filtering support in its firewall as well as some advanced features around the IPsec protocol, Boettcher said.

Microsoft is making a few tweaks to boost performance as well. A caching algorithm called SuperFetch, which speeds up computer usage, will be expanded to support the use of expandable memory. "One of the autoplay options can use drive memory for SuperFetch," Boettcher said. "You can use a gig of memory to speed up the computer."

Microsoft has bestowed the name of BitLocker to the feature for full-volume encryption. Full-volume encryption helps prevent disk access to files by other operating systems. Encryption keys are stored in a Trusted Platform Module.

And finally, this CTP has made additional progress toward the Aero look and feel as well as some updates to the Media Center interface, he said.

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