New IE, Media Player Features Expected to Debut in Windows Vista Refresh

New IE, Media Player Features Expected to Debut in Windows Vista Refresh

Testers will soon have a new Community Technology Preview build, the second one that Microsoft has issued for its next-gen Windows client. Beta 2 is looking like December, sources say.

Microsoft is poised to release to testers the second Community Technology Preview (CTP) release of Windows Vista, paving the way for a second full-fledged beta, which is now expected in December.

Among the new features which could find their way into the updated build are a number of Internet Explorer 7.0 enhancements; the resurrected “Sidebar” task pane; Windows Media Player 11.0; and new networking functionality.

Robert McLaws, president of Interscape Technologies, said that Microsoft released CTP 2 of Vista on Thursday night.

“Build 5231 (aka Windows Vista October CTP), compiled on Oct 4, 2005, was posted to the Connect website a short while ago,” McLaws said in a posting to, which has since been removed.

Other beta testers said they did not see the CTP 2 on Microsoft’s private Connect testers’ site. But Windows expert Ed Bott clarified that the new CTP 2 build was apparently made available to members of Microsoft’s Technical Adoption Program (TAP) elite beta-test program, and not to all Connect members..

In any case, Vista CTP 2 should go to a wider group of Windows testers imminently..

Microsoft’s CTP product builds are not considered to be beta quality. Instead, they are interim snapshots, intended to provide testers with a glimpse of where particular products are, in between full-fledged beta releases. Microsoft’s developer division has been championing CTP releases for nearly a year. The Windows client and server teams both launched their first CTP builds in September at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC).

Microsoft’s current plan is to release a mid-October CTP, followed by a mid-November CTP. In December, the company is looking to deliver the full-fledged Vista Beta 2 release in December, according to partner sources close to the company.

Microsoft officials did not respond to a request for comment on Vista CTP 2 by the time this article was published.

However, at the PDC in September, officials with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team foreshadowed some of the new features that the team planned to add to the Internet Explorer 7.0 build that is integrated into Vista.

The IE team is aiming to include in the October CTP “QuickTabs,” which allow allow users to see in a single pane all of the tab content they are accessing via IE 7.0. The team also expected to add the embedded RSS capabilities that company officials outlined earlier this summer to the October CTP release, IE officials told Microsoft Watch.

IE officials said to expect new protect-mode security functionality, via which downloads are “sandboxed” until they are shown to be non-malicious, will be turned on, as of the October CTP IE 7.0 build, as will another capability we’ve heard next-to-nothing about, called “ActiveX Opt-In.” Via ActiveX Opt-in, Microsoft will disable almost all ActiveX controls by default, other than some high-volume, commonly used ones, such as Flash. (Users will be able to go in and enable them, however.)

The “Favorites Center,” which will allow users to see in a single view their favorites, history and RSS Web feeds, was likely to be part of the new build. And that “shrink-to-fit” printing functionality is expected to debut in the October IE 7.0 CTP build, too.

Windows Media Player 11, the next version of Microsoft’s audio/video player that is built into Windows, is expected to make a first formal appearance in the October CTP.

Another, non-IE-specific feature that could debut in the Vista CTP 2 build is the “Sidebar.” The Sidebar, a task pane that was part of Microsoft’s original vision for Vista, but which officials said in April they had decided to ditch, is now back on the Vista drawing board, company officials acknowledged in September.

In the October CTP, Microsoft also might preview some of the networking enhancements it is planning to add to Vista by the time Beta 2 ships.

The Vista networking team is planning to add support for a new protocol, Compound TCP (CTCP), which the networking team co-developed with Microsoft Research,. CTCP is a synergy of delay-based and loss-based approaches for dealing with Internet traffic.

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