I am currently writing this blog from Windows Vista Build 5219, known as the Community Technology Preview(CTP) for September or PDC 2005 Build.
I want to talk about several key areas that have spiked by interest in this new Build. But before I talk about those, I'd like to say overall stability-wise, Build 5219 seems to carry over the stability seen in Beta 1. I've noticed only very few issues. One of the issues for me has to do with the Wireless Networking (an issue I've noticed others have had troubles with from posts on different forums around the web). Build 5219 picked up my DLink Wireless Card and loaded the drivers and detected my wireless network. But for some reason, it wouldn't let me manually put in my IP Configuration (I do not have DHCP enabled on my Router). The IP config just wouldn't stick! I would right-click on the Wireless Networking icon in the taskbar to "Repair" and I would get a "Windows Explorer" error and then the Explorer shell would crash and reload. I did not have this issue in Beta 1.
Ok now on to the neat stuff.
Transparent Taskbar: Microsoft is now making the taskbar transparent as it does with all its new Aero windows you see within Vista. I like this. The transparency isn't too much or too little. Very cool enhancement. It makes me wonder what they have up their sleeve in terms of the new user interface being talked about for Beta 2.
Windows Sidebar: Ok, I am very happy Microsoft decided to bring the Sidebar back. Its potential was apparent right from the beginning (atleast to me) and it definately seems Microsoft sees that potential now and of course with the RSS built in all over the OS, the Sidebar is a great tool. And the Gadgets will surely rock the user interface in Vista. I can't wait to see the types of Gadgets people come up with. I can't really figure out why, I am very excited for the Sidebar.
Windows Mail: Although still called Outlook Express in this build, I am going to refer to it as Windows Mail because I think Windows Mail is so much cooler than Outlook Express, I think Outlook Express can easily be forgotten. Windows Mail redefines the standard home user's ability to check their mail. Just as explained in my previous blog about Windows Mail a few days ago, in Build 5219 you can see alot of what they talked about in the Channel 9 video emerging. The emails are saved as .eml files and searchable within Vista. Although, in this build it looks like Outlook Express, its going to end up looking alot more like Outlook 2003. Except, I challenge the Windows Mail team to go all out. Be different. Develop a rocking email client. Go beyond just minicing Outlook. I am definately really excited about this one.
Address Book: Ok, I am a big nerd for even mentioning this but its cool how the Address Book has changed to allow seperate "contact files" for each contact which I have no doubt will be searchable via Windows Vista's awesome Windows Search. I like this concept alot and hope and wish that the Windows Mail team taps into this (and even the Outlook team for Outlook 12). I remember reading somewhere someplace this will eventually be "Windows Phonebook". Not sure I like that name. I would rather see "Windows Contacts" or something else...cause from what I see now, it goes beyond just being a phonebook.
Windows Calendar: Could be cool. In this build, it doesn't do anything but I'd like to see it tap into the Sidebar technology with a gadget and also tap into Windows Mail. I want to see built in reminders in Vista for calendar entries.
Did I mention how much I love the Sidebar?
They also improved the search feature a bit in this build by allowing you to search beyond your User folder. I could never get it to search anywhere else in Beta 1.
I will be posting more later on with screenshots!