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Vista and Longhorn Server Features for Developers

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  • User profile image
    jolson88

    UPDATE: You just GOTTA LOVE Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Features_new_to_Windows_Vista.

    UPDATE 2: Added Mark Brown's list that he made on the second page. Thanks Mark Smiley.

    Considering that the "Vista's Killer Features" thread ended up being hijacked, I figured I would post this list here for more visibility.

    For those of you that have only heard the "marketing side" of Vista or Longhorn Server, here's a short list of some of the features that *you* (as a developer) might actually care about (no mentioning of fancy schmancy UI stuff here). I've tried to include links to a _few_ of the Channel 9 videos covering these technologies that I actually know about. I'm sure I'll miss some, so feel free to post a reply if I do Smiley.


    Application Server
       - IIS 7 - too many improvements to simply mention here.
             - How Developers can Extend IIS7

       - Windows Activation Service (WAS) - WAS manages application pool configuration and worker processes instead of the WWW service. This enables you to use the same configuration and process model for HTTP and non-HTTP sites. Additionally, you can run WAS without WWW Service if you do not need HTTP functionality. For example, you can manage a WCF Service through a listener, such as Net.Tcp, without running the WWW Service if you do not need to listen for HTTP requests in HTTP.sys.


    Transactional Platform

       - Transactional NTFS (TxF)  - Direct support for transactional file operations. These are fully ACID transactions, too! Not only that, it plays together with DTC (Distributed Transaction Coordinator) so now you can have a transaction that is not only writing to a database, but also making changes to the file system (and nobody will see these changes until the transaction is committed). And since it is within the scope of the same transaction, if either file writing or database inserting fails, BOTH of them will be rolled back automatically with no extra code from you.
             - Surendra Verma: Vista Transactional File System

       - Transactional Registry (TxR)  - Basically the same as Transactional NTFS from above except when dealing with operations performed on the Registry.

       - Kernel Transaction Manager (KTM) - This is the kernel component that enables features like Transactional NTFS, and the Transactional Registry. It incorporates Transaction objects directly into the Kernel of the OS. And since it also supports creation of your own resource managers, the transactional world is your oyster Tongue Out.

       - SMB 2.0 - SMB will have added supported for distributed transactions as well as many other performance improvements.


    Management

       - Windows Remote Management (WinRM) - A new feature that uses Microsoft's implementation of the WS-Management standard - which allows machines to be configured remotely through a SOAP-based web service. Any other OS (even non-MS OSes) that implement WS-Management can also be managed through this new tool.

       - MMC 3.0 / support for .NET and Windows Forms as well as new "Action Pane" to make MMC snap-ins a bit more intuitive for end-users

       - Boot Configuration Data / boot.ini is dead now. There is now a complete, robust Boot Configuration Data Store that supports all sorts of different levels of customization.

       - Windows Event Log service / ability to subscribe to specific events and get notified when they occur among many other enhancements

       - Task Scheduler 2.0 / All sorts of new features. Can almost be thought of as "cron on steroids". Full scripting/programming support of new features.


    Recovery and Restart

       - Windows Error Reporting (WER) - Ability to create your own custom crash reports for your application and subscribe to the notifications of those crashes.

       - Application Recovery and Restart - Have you noticed that when applications on Vista like Visual Studio crash, you can choose to have them re-open automatically? You can now do this with your own applications. You can also register to be notified when your application crashes so that you can do any custom recovery of data that you need to.

       - Restart Manager - Fewer reboots, yay! Using Windows Installer 4.0 (or the direct Restart Manager APIs), you can register what files your application needs so that when someone is upgrading applications on their computer and are replacing files you need, rather than requiring a restart to replace the in-use files, Restart Manager will shut down all non-critical system processes that need the files that are in-use so the computer won't need to be rebooted.


    File Systems

       - Remote Differential Compression (RDC) - allows applications to synchronize data between two computes in an efficient manner. The synchronization efficiency is made possible by using compression techniques to minimize the amount of data sent across the network (read: it only sends the actualy bits that have changes).

       - Common Log File System (CLFS) - Provides high-performance persistent log services to user-mode and kernel-mode applications. Internal components like Transactional NTFS and the new Kernel Transaction Manager use this directly (it doesn't mean you can't enjoy the same benefits Tongue Out).

       - Filter Manager Framework - A new framework for writing file system filter drivers. Where before, there was a "pass-through" model where every filter driver had to handle actual pass-through of data whether they cared about it or not (not very scalable), this has been improved to where the new filters only need to pay attention to what they care about (and they won't even be notified of events they don't care about). 
             - Neil Christiansen, part 1
             - Neil Christiansen, part 2

       - BitLocker - BitLocker Drive Encryption protects data by preventing unauthorized users from breaking Windows file and system protection on lost or stolen computers. This protection is achieved by encrypting the entire Windows volume. With BitLocker, all user and system files are encrypted including the swap and hibernation files. BitLocker is tightly integrated into Windows Vista.
             - Peter Biddle, BitLocker, Security in Windows Vista

       - *Actual* symbolic links - one thing to say: it's about TIME Smiley


    Concurrency (native)

       - Condition Variables - Condition variables simplify the creation of complex synchronization objects.

       - Thread Ordering Service - The Thread Ordering Sevice controls the execution of one or more client threads. It ensures that each client thread runs once during the specific period and in relative order.

       - Thread Pools - Those of you that are .NET developers may already be familiar with the concept of a Thread Pool. Well, now there are native APIs for direct support of thread pools in native applications.


    Networking 

       - Network Location Awareness (NLA) - The Network Awareness API enables applications to avoid randomly selecting a network to connect to. Network Awareness identifies available networks and returns network attribute data to the application. NLA filters network connections and retrieves the connections best suited to the application. Thus, an application can select the optimal network configuration.

       - Windows Filtering Platform (WFP) - With the WFP API, developers can create code that allows applications to participate in the filtering that takes place at all layers in the networking stack.

       - Secure Sockets API (native) - Direct support for SSL connections in new WinSock API rather than having to add a bunch of extra code to support a secure connection

       - Various other improvements from recent technology advancements: VPN routing compartments, TCP Chimney, TCP-A (I/OAT), Receive Side Scaling, Receive Window Auto-Tuning, Compound-TCP (Congestion Control), Black-Hole Router Detection, Dead Gateway Detection, Network Diagnostics Framework, Policy-based Quality of Service, etc.

             - Not sure if it's related or not (as I shamefully haven't watched it yet): Jawad Khaki, Networking VP


    Devices

       - Function Discovery API - No more needs for knowing protocols like Plug 'n Play and the like for discovery of devices on a system. All those protocols are now hidden under a new unified function discovery API. Functiona Discovery really serves as an abstraction layer between applications and devices, allowing applications to discover devices by referencing the device's function, rather than by its bus type or the nature of its connection.

       - Web Services on Devices - Web Service on Devices (WSDAPI) is a complete implementation of the Devices Profile for Web Services (DPWS). The DPWS describes a set of requirements that enable a device to be discovered by clients and describe available services to those clients.

    Mark Brown has added the following list as well:

    Mark Brown wrote:
    

    To add just a couple more Vista developer features to Jason's list. And btw, this by no means an exhaustive list, even added on to Jason's.

    UI and Shell Type Features:

    • The extensible Common File Dialog lets your applications directly integrate Explorer’s Search and Organize capabilities.
    • Sidebar and SideShow gadgets are easily developed, mini-applications that you can create to provide value to your users even when the application isn’t running.
    • Integrated Speech capabilities offer new ways for users to interact with your applications.
    • Rich Preview enables your to provide users with a read-only preview of data in custom file formats that is integrated in Windows Explorer and the Common File Dialog.
    • Improved ink & pen support make it easier to build applications with ink-driven input.
    • Direct X 10 takes better advantage of the graphics capabilities of a user’s hardware, enabling a new level or performance and realism in games and multimedia applications.
       

    Search and Data Features:

    • Integrated Search enables you to add instant search to your application and ensure that the information in your application is easily accessible from the shell or other search-enabled applications.
    • You can also can define your own metadata to make data generated by your applications more searchable and accessible to users.
    • The Sync Center gives you one place where you can manage data synchronization between your written applications and other PCs, devices, and network servers simplifying the need to include dedicated synchronization UI in every application. Just hook into the API’s, it does the rest.
       

    P2P Features:

    • Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP) provides server-less name publication and resolution over both local networks and the Internet removing the need for centralized servers and making it easier to connect your applications.
    • PeerNet Group Meshes enables your applications to share data and communicate among ad-hoc peer networks.
    • People Near Me supports the publishing of information needed to establish application sessions so that you can make it easy for users to find and interact with others nearby.
       

    RSS Features:

    • Support for all common RSS formats including RSS 1.0, 2.0 and Atom 0.3.
    • Common RSS Feed List gives your applications access to the list of feeds to which the user is subscribed.
    • Common RSS Data Store is a common data store that provides a single location where your applications can access any content that has been downloaded to the PC via RSS.
    • RSS Platform Sync Engine automatically downloads data and files (enclosures) for use by your application using idle bandwidth when possible.
    • Simple List Extensions extend RSS to provides a better experience in sorting and filtering data received in an RSS feed and publishing lists of content.
       

    Security Features:

    • User Account Control, You all heard of this one I hope
    • Crypto Next Generation Services provides new levels of flexibility and power for cryptography in your developed applications, enabling new algorithms to be added to Windows for use in Secure Socket Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) and Internet Protocol security (IPSec).

    Keep in mind most of these features I'm referring to here are all targeted at the Win32/SDK developers. We've already received much feedback on, "Hey I want this in .NET" We hear you on this to be sure.

    Enjoy



    Well, those are just a few of the new "developer-oriented" features off the top of my head. These are just the features I've come across from the server-side of things working on Longhorn Server so I'm sure there are MANY more that are client-specific (read: Vista specific, like Windows Image Acquisition, Windows Imaging Codec, Media Player, Windows Contacts, Windows Shell improvements, high-performance Audio APIs, Multimedia Class Scheduler service, etc.).

    * A note: a few of these features are available on Windows Server 2003 R2, but not on the client-facing XP (hence the inclusion on this list).

  • User profile image
    Rossj

    Wow, that's a lot of stuff. And how did I miss the MMC 3 with .Net support stuff.  It'd be cool to get videos on all the stuff where they don't already exist?  I am guessing the C9 guys already have a big schedule, but this is a great opportunity for us to find out about LH Server and how it affects us (and what it'll let us do) well before release - which is early 2007? Right?

  • User profile image
    Rotem Kirshenbaum

    <sarcasm>
    Gee, and I thought that Vista was just copied from Mac or something. I didn't think that they actually created new stuff.
    </sarcasm>

    Wow, this is really long list of some cool features. I wasn't aware of most of these things. Truly impressed.

    Good job jason ! (for this thread), and good job to MS, too.

    Rotem

  • User profile image
    Rossj

    Rotem Kirshenbaum wrote:
    

    <sarcasm>
    Gee, and I thought that Vista was just copied from Mac or something. I didn't think that they actually created new stuff.
    </sarcasm>



    Sarcasm aside, that's unlikely.  Apple's server platform is aimed (SAN aside) for a specific target (SME) which only slightly overlaps Windows Server.

  • User profile image
    Cornelius Ellsonpeter

    JasonOlson wrote:
    - Boot Configuration Data / boot.ini is dead now. There is now a complete, robust Boot Configuration Data Store that supports all sorts of different levels of customization.
    Running with this idea, has anybody tried a dual boot setup with a Linux distro? Or is that more difficult now? Will Vista let you create/alter new partitions?

  • User profile image
    Rotem Kirshenbaum

    I heard that file system encryption won't allow Linux to read files on a Vista partition.

    Rotem

  • User profile image
    Eclipz

    I have to say, I'm actually surprised to see Transactional NTFS in there.  I've heard it's in there, then not, then it'll be an update, and now here it is that it's in again.  I guess I can hope.

    The filtering manager has been out for awhile though, about a year and a half.  It's available for everything from Win 2000 to Vista with appropriate service packs and updates. 

    Nice to see the list though.  I especially like the improvements in the networking category.  I'm really looking forward to them.

  • User profile image
    jolson88

    Rossj wrote:
    Wow, that's a lot of stuff.


    Rotem Kirshenbaum wrote:
    
    Wow, this is really long list of some cool features. I wasn't aware of most of these things. Truly impressed.


    Yup, and the thing is that those features are just some of the things that are visible to _us_. There's been a whole SLEW of internal kernel features that make Vista a much more reliable, stable, and secure platform over XP.

    I guess that's why I'm disappointed when I hear people say "there's nothing worth while in Vista, just stay with XP." Unfortunately, I also think that it shows that we (read: Microsoft) have not done the best job communicating the plethora of new features to the development crowd.

    Rossj wrote:
    ...but this is a great opportunity for us to find out about LH Server and how it affects us (and what it'll let us do) well before release - which is early 2007? Right?


    I believe the current goal for Longhorn Server is second half of 2007. We'll see if that's still true six months from now Expressionless.

    Rotem Kirshenbaum wrote:

    Good job jason ! (for this thread), and good job to MS, too.


    Thanks Rotem. I'm just trying to provide more visibility into all the great work _others_ have done at Microsoft Smiley. One of the joys about being an evangelist, I suppose Tongue Out.

  • User profile image
    jolson88

    Eclipz wrote:
    I have to say, I'm actually surprised to see Transactional NTFS in there.  I've heard it's in there, then not, then it'll be an update, and now here it is that it's in again.  I guess I can hope.


    Actually, I thought that Transactional NTFS was already planned to be released. Are you thinking of WinFS? WinFS != Transactional NTFS. They are completely seperate animals.

  • User profile image
    Rotem Kirshenbaum

    Rossj wrote:
    
    Rotem Kirshenbaum wrote: 

    <sarcasm>
    Gee, and I thought that Vista was just copied from Mac or something. I didn't think that they actually created new stuff.
    </sarcasm>



    Sarcasm aside, that's unlikely.  Apple's server platform is aimed (SAN aside) for a specific target (SME) which only slightly overlaps Windows Server.


    I hope I wasn't misunderstood - I was referring to Vista bashing that MS stole the Mac UI etc. I wasn't serious Smiley

    Rotem

  • User profile image
    jolson88

    Rotem Kirshenbaum wrote:
    I heard that file system encryption won't allow Linux to read files on a Vista partition.

    Rotem


    Rotem, I believe that is the case if you are actually using BitLocker (which I don't believe is enabled by default. Here is a quote from the BitLocker page on microsoft.com:

    BitLocker Documentation wrote:

    BitLocker prevents a thief who boots another operating system or runs a software hacking tool from breaking Windows Vista file and system protections or performing offline viewing of the files stored on the protected drive.


    I'm not a security expert, so I don't know how "truthful" that statement actually is or isn't.

  • User profile image
    blowdart

    JasonOlson wrote:
    

    BitLocker Documentation wrote:
    BitLocker prevents a thief who boots another operating system or runs a software hacking tool from breaking Windows Vista file and system protections or performing offline viewing of the files stored on the protected drive.


    I'm not a security expert, so I don't know how "truthful" that statement actually is or isn't.


    The problem with it is for forensics tools. Even if you image the drive you can't do anything with it. Which makes part of my job difficult.

  • User profile image
    Rossj

    JasonOlson wrote:
    Rotem, I believe that is the case if you are actually using BitLocker (which I don't believe is enabled by default. Here is a quote from the BitLocker page on microsoft.com:

    BitLocker Documentation wrote:
    BitLocker prevents a thief who boots another operating system or runs a software hacking tool from breaking Windows Vista file and system protections or performing offline viewing of the files stored on the protected drive.


    I'm not a security expert, so I don't know how "truthful" that statement actually is or isn't.


    It actually makes a lot of sense to not allow other OSes to read from the encrypted drive - last thing you want is someone rebooting with a live linux CD and ftp'ing your data somewhere after a quick mount -t ntfs /dev/hda1 /mnt/haxxored

  • User profile image
    Cornelius Ellsonpeter

    So will the ditching of the boot.ini system make it more difficult to create a dual boot setup? Just curious, because I have that with my XP box, and it was an "adventure", but that was mostly due to some bizarre hardware option I had to turn off. Sometimes you have to modify the boot.ini file or the Windows bootloader (ntldr) or do some other funky manuevers to get it to work properly.

    Sounds a bit like a "pre-emptive" strategy to me. I don't mean that in a negative way...but from a business standpoint I understand it.

  • User profile image
    Cornelius Ellsonpeter

    Rossj wrote:
    
    JasonOlson wrote: Rotem, I believe that is the case if you are actually using BitLocker (which I don't believe is enabled by default. Here is a quote from the BitLocker page on microsoft.com:

    BitLocker Documentation wrote:
    BitLocker prevents a thief who boots another operating system or runs a software hacking tool from breaking Windows Vista file and system protections or performing offline viewing of the files stored on the protected drive.


    I'm not a security expert, so I don't know how "truthful" that statement actually is or isn't.


    It actually makes a lot of sense to not allow other OSes to read from the encrypted drive - last thing you want is someone rebooting with a live linux CD and ftp'ing your data somewhere after a quick mount -t ntfs /dev/hda1 /mnt/haxxored
    At the same time, it also makes it a bigger pain to try to recover somebody's failing drive. I had to rescue legitimate data off a friend's hard drive and all the Windows tools I tried failed me, includuing some third party products and the hard drive manufacturer's tools. The only way I could save anything was by using Knoppix. From a theft standpoint I can understand the reasons for doing this, but from a recovery standpoint, it could make things much worse.

  • User profile image
    Rotem Kirshenbaum

    JasonOlson wrote:
    
    Rotem Kirshenbaum wrote: I heard that file system encryption won't allow Linux to read files on a Vista partition.

    Rotem


    Rotem, I believe that is the case if you are actually using BitLocker (which I don't believe is enabled by default. Here is a quote from the BitLocker page on microsoft.com:

    BitLocker Documentation wrote:
    BitLocker prevents a thief who boots another operating system or runs a software hacking tool from breaking Windows Vista file and system protections or performing offline viewing of the files stored on the protected drive.


    I'm not a security expert, so I don't know how "truthful" that statement actually is or isn't.


    Aha ! That's exactly what I was referring to. Forgot the name Smiley

    Rotem

  • User profile image
    jolson88

    Cornelius Ellsonpeter wrote:
    So will the ditching of the boot.ini system make it more difficult to create a dual boot setup? Just curious, because I have that with my XP box, and it was an "adventure", but that was mostly due to some bizarre hardware option I had to turn off. Sometimes you have to modify the boot.ini file or the Windows bootloader (ntldr) or do some other funky manuevers to get it to work properly.

    Sounds a bit like a "pre-emptive" strategy to me. I don't mean that in a negative way...but from a business standpoint I understand it.


    I can't talk from personal experience in this space. However, I know several coworkers who have dual-booted Vista and XP just fine.

    I've also heard "rumors" of people dual-booting Mac OS and Vista using Boot Camp on the new Intel-based Macs.

    Rossj wrote:
    
    It actually makes a lot of sense to not allow other OSes to read from the encrypted drive - last thing you want is someone rebooting with a live linux CD and ftp'ing your data somewhere after a quick mount -t ntfs /dev/hda1 /mnt/haxxored


    It's kind of always been a "rule" in computer security that if the cracker has access to the physical box, you're screwed. I think this is one of many features trying to "bring balance" to that ecosystem. There is also a feature in Longhorn Server called a "Read-Only Domain Controller" that prevents complete AD forests from being compromised if a domain controller is stolen (like from a branch office).

    Can you ever make a box completely secure if the cracker has physical access? I'm not so sure. But you sure can make it a helluva lot harder to crack Smiley.

  • User profile image
    Rossj

    JasonOlson wrote:
    
    I've also heard "rumors" of people dual-booting Mac OS and Vista using Boot Camp on the new Intel-based Macs.


    S'true, although Boot Camp has problems with the new 24" monsters.  You can now also run Vista in Parallels since they implement ACPI. Those parallels guys are *fast*, Microsoft should nab 'em, but then I couldn't believe Microsoft didn't nab *all* of the BeOS guys.

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