Windows Longhorn (Milestone 7 – Build 7074)

It’s no secret that Microsoft’s Windows Vista went through a troubled development cycle. Much of the features introduced in Vista were a reaction to Mac OS X Panther and Tiger. This is similar to what Apple went through when it developed the Copland operating system where feature creep took priority over stability and many new features would be added but were then left unrefined as the development team continued to implement more features.

Build 7074 pictured here is considered to be one of the more stable build prior to the reset, yet suffers from occasional explorer memory leaks that can impact the overall performance.

The setup utility looks very different compared to the XP and final Vista interface.

All Done

Now for the ritual of installing the drivers. I did run into an issue with the virtual box drivers initially not installing, this was fixed by running the VM addons setup applications in compatibility mode for Windows XP.

After a quick reboot and we have full graphics acceleration. The first thing you will notice is the side bar to the right, which houses the gadgets, clock, quick launch and the tray icons. These were previously on the task bar itself, freeing it for the running applications.

The start menu meanwhile remains unchanged from Windows XP aside from a new colour scheme

Pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del yields a new Windows Security Prompt screen, from here Task Manager can be invoked.

One of the many glitches that can happen in thus build, a quick reboot fixes it.

Windows Explorer has undergone a significant face lift, building on the change introduced in Windows XP, more information is shown in relation to the drive status, earlier access to common document shortcuts. While the new appearance is a welcome change, the waste in screen real estate is not, especially the blue area near the top of the screen. Storage favourites lets you bookmark folders in Windows explorer, similar to how bookmarks function in a web browser.

The new games area

I wonder if there are any updates for this build?

One of the main attractions of Longhorn was a redefined search facility, however in this build it still functions the same as how the XP search facility operated. Indexed search would not appear until after the Longhorn reset. Also no search assistant :/

Two Properties? One is for the start menu older properties and the other for the task bar settings.

Longhorn comes with several visual styles, Slate (currently set) and Jade

Jade version of the Start menu

Outlook Express has had a redesign

A new feature added was the hardware and Devices sections that lists all devices installed in the system, a more graphical version of device manager.

System Properties

Internet Explorer in action, I’m surprised the Windows Update page still works, although this seems to be for the final Windows Vista version

You can change how the operating system delivers notifications, presumably form the tray icons

Installing The Sims…

Whilst it works OK most of the time, running it in windowed mode and panning the camera can yield some interesting graphics glitches, thankfully they go away when you release the right mouse button.

Nice feature, you can change the starup programs without having to use MSCONFIG

Not sure I like the file details being in an explorer window, certainly not an efficient use of space

Sample of a crashed program in Windows Longhorn

Sadly GTA3 refused to install on this build, despite using compatibility mode.

Not sure what fast items are, the replacement for quick launch?

Also the side bar can be resized,

Shutting down Longhorn

Overall this is considered to be the last stable built of Longhorn pre-reset, as the next few builds would become incredibility bug ridden. The sidebar is also an unusual concept that may be seen as a distraction. Thankfully it can be set to auto hide. However a common theme is that a lot of windows have a lot of vacant space (see the top blue area of My Computer) which take up a lot of screen estate, and the UI buttons (search) in explorer are also quite large with no option to resize them. This becomes an issue when running this build on systems with a low resolution display, since it is easy for the screen to become cluttered, especially since low end laptops, ultra mobile PC’s and netbooks started to become popular towards the end of the XP era.

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