The ALT+TAB combination will now give you a visual presentation of the tasks you have running. Microsoft is calling this technology "Flip" and to take it a step further, if you press your Windows key and spacebar, you will get a 3-D view of the windows stacked on your desktop. This eye candy is called "Flip 3-D."
The Windows sidebar makes a comeback and has been redesigned. I suspect it has been reintroduced due to the release of Googles sidebar which incorporates Gmail, desktop search, and other bundled goodies into one sidebar.
You will see the competition between Google and Microsoft heat up as we get closer and closer to the Windows Vistas full release.
Additionally, Windows backup has been given a tune-up and this build now has a shadow-copy client that allows you recover older files in the event of user error or data corruption. This isn't really new technology since it was first introduced in Windows 2003. Microsoft has also released some new games within the build, as well as a Windows calendar similar to Apple's I-CAL.
Now that we have gone through some of the glitz, lets talk about what matters: security and performance improvements.
Improvements have been made to Internet Explorer 7. One improvement worth mentioning is a new feature called ActiveX Opt-In which will quell the rumblings of many of the security concerns people have with Internet Explorer.
We all know ActiveX has its problems with security. This new feature allows you to choose the ActiveX controls that run on your PC. You no longer have to worry about ActiveX controls silently installing themselves on your computers.
On the security front, user account protection (UAP) is now turned on by default. UAP protection prompts you with a login when you have to make administrator level changes to your system. This is one major feature in Windows Vista that makes it more secure than any other Windows release to date.
In the performance arena, a new feature called "Super Fetch" will monitor and examine your system and determine what applications you frequently load, and will pre-load the code so you can have a faster application launch and better performance.
As development of Windows Vista continues, we can expect monthly builds to be released. As I learn of the new functionality, I will be able to keep you apprised of the improvements or lack thereof. Stay Tuned.
Steven Warren is an IT consultant for the Ultimate Software Group and a freelance technical writer who has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic, TechProGuild, CNET, ZDNET, DatabaseJournal.com and, now, CIO Update. He the author of "The VMware Workstation 5.0 Handbook" and holds the following certifications: MCDBA, MCSE, MCSA, CCA, CIW-SA, CIW-MA, Network+, and i-Net+.