Feedback-Driven Improvements to Windows Vista Since Beta 2

As we come into the home stretch in the Windows Vista development cycle, we’ve got a lot of stuff left to do to make this the best Windows release ever.  As we do this, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for your feedback and give you an idea of the ways you’re helping.  We’ve gotten feedback from all types of people – general consumers, IT Professionals, enthusiasts – you name it -- from all around the world.

Some of the development teams came to me and asked that we share a sampling of the changes that we’ve made based on your feedback.

While some of these changes may seem small, when you realize that they will affect hundreds of millions of people -- and in some cases, those people will notice the benefit every time they use the operating system -- well, in all it’s really pretty awesome.  Here are just a few of the changes we’ve implemented as a direct result of your feedback from Beta 2.  Many of these changes are in recent post-Beta 2 builds, and all will definitely be included in our RC-1 release.

From the shell team, changes to Explorer include:

  • Brought back List mode in our List views

  • The folder tree will now persist in all modes of the Explorer

  • Brought back property editing in Details Pane, and fixed truncation issues in the Details Pane

  • Implemented major performance gains when browsing slow volumes and network shares

  • Made it so .zip and .cab files are sorted along with files, not along with folders

  • Added more polish to Classic-themed Explorer

  • Fixed many heavily-reported drawing artifacts and fit-and-finish bugs

Next, while we continue to work on overall system search performance, we’ve made some pretty cool changes to it for this cycle:

  • Right-clicking on Start Orb and selecting “Search” now takes you directly to the Search Explorer where you can execute a wider search of the entirety of your PC

  • Updated Search Pane UI; now it’s on by default in the Search Explorer and optional in all the other Explorers.  It’s also more easily read when using Glass

  • Simplified Advanced Search UI found under the advanced drop-down menu

Sharing and networking has changed for the better in the following ways:

  • Re-designed the Network and Sharing Center -- we got a lot of feedback on this one, and hopefully the new design meets everyone’s expectations

    • Consolidated the sharing & networking control panels into a single control panel

    • Improved visual design and text simplification of Network & Sharing Center to make it more task-oriented

    • "Mini-map" icons are clickable (e.g., Computer, Network, Internet browser)

    • Integrated sharing controls into the Network and Sharing center

      • Global control for enabling/disabling file sharing

      • Added a drop-down of user accounts to the sharing wizard.  This will now link to your Active Directory listings or else show other accounts on the same PC

    • Improved dialog box that helps you determine what type of network (public/private) you are on

    • Text updates for links in left pane

    • Improved usability for "not connected" state

  • When connecting to a network, you should see:

    • Improved detection of existing connection

    • No UAC elevation when connecting to a wireless connection

    • Access to Properties for networks with saved settings now available via the right-click menu

  • The Network Explorer has a number of changes that will help with device discovery.  It also features default icons for a number of network device classes such as media players, Xbox, projectors, etc.

  • The Network System Tray is now easier to see and has been changed to give more “clickable area” around the icon itself

  • Finally, for those folks with multiple users on the same PC, we’ve added support for per-user MIME types

The Windows Media Center team has been hard at work too.  They have:

  • Tuned overall Windows Media Center performance.  You should see some fairly substantial gains in the post-Beta 2 builds

  • Reduced the number of reliability issues.  Fewer crashes and great video playback -- who wouldn’t want that? J

  • Tweaked a lot of little UI elements for better usability

One thing to check out: When using an Xbox 360 as a Media Center Extender, the remote experience is now full-fidelity.  It looks and performs exactly like you’re using the PC.

Our security teams have also been listening to you.  The System Integrity team has simplified the “out-of-the-box” Windows BitLocker user interface.  Its new UI now makes it much, much easier for a Windows Vista Ultimate user to be able to setup BitLocker on TPM 1.2-enabled hardware.  The administrator of an Enterprise edition system still has access to all of the features and functionality that BitLocker supports through scripting and command line tools.

Finally, we’ve gotten lots of great feedback on User Account Control.  This is definitely a big feature for this release as far as security goes, and here’s how we’re making it better post-Beta 2:

  • Deleting a shortcut from the desktop will no longer require elevation for administrators

  • Task Manager launches right away and allows the user to elevate later

  • Copying or moving multiple files to protected folders should require only one prompt to gain access

  • The Find New Hardware experience has been changed to remove the UAC prompt until the user is ready to install the device

  • “Set Focus” work has been done so that UAC prompts from applications running in the background do not interrupt users' workflow.  The users will instead see a blinking item in the taskbar in these situations

  • The OS has been scrubbed for UAC prompts, the net benefit being that the number of UAC prompts is now reduced

  • A much-requested feature from our IT community:  Elevated command prompts are distinguished by prefixing “Administrator:” to the title

  • We’ve added a new ActiveX Installer Service so that administrators can give Standard Users permissions to install controls from trusted sites

  • All UAC prompts have been scrubbed so as to be more consistent and informative, and also to provide users with improved context for deciding whether to permit/deny the prompt

Whew, that's quite a list!  Like I said, we’re all hard at work delivering the best version of Windows yet, so please don’t stop sending us feedback.  Your suggestions could end up affecting hundreds of millions of people!

Comments (8)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nick outlines some feedback-driven changes and improvements coming to Vista for RC1. They changes are

  2. Anonymous says:

    A couple of days ago, an article was published over at TechWeb, stating that Vista will ship in late…

  3. McoreD says:

    That’s some great enhancements done for Vista post Beta 2 guys. I just have a long awaited suggestion to make.

    It would be REAL NICE if Vista could use the IEC prefixes for file/folder sizes. There is NO recalculation needed, only a label change. Just have to change KB to KiB, MB to MiB, GB to GiB etc. This would really help the wide circulation of the new binary prefixes.

    If proper prefixes are implemented, then there will be no more confusion among us users. People won’t be questioning how 200 GB became 186 GB! In Vista, a 200 GB HDD will be read as 186 GiB and everybody will be happy.

    Please take this issue seriously. We are slowing down the standardization of proper prefixes by not using it in Windows. No even Apple has done it yet for their Mac OS X, and it will be great if Windows can first use it.

  4. stevember says:

    The one thing I would love to see in Vistais a global shy box.

    it would certainly help me and my disability and I think it would also help everybody else that primarily uses the mouse.

    Let me explain what I mean, in the new office you have a box that comes up whenever you select an item with the most frequently used things, how about doing this when ever you select a folder or a bit of text it would save you having to go to the toolbar or going to the right click which is slow for me with my disability. almost certainly you could have the delete, copy, move and things like that as buttons.  It is so much faster from the making something bold in the new word from this simple shy box.

    So far I am really impressed with Vista, I am not part of the beta I have only tried the public release, I use speech software all the time and would love to test that is more when new versions come out that will be available to the public.

  5. metaltwisted says:

    Hey, does anyone here have any idea of what price range would be for windows vista ultimate on OEM new laptops?

  6. BooTes says:

    Great to see so much improvements based on user feedback. I’ve added this news to vistazone ( – the digg for windows vista 😉

  7. nwhite says:

    Hi stevember:

    This is great feedback and something that I’m sharing with our Accessibility team.  Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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