1. Max Norris

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    • By JustinCharlier
      End of the road: Microsoft terminates support for Windows Vista today
      by Justin Luna

      The Windows Vista desktop | via ghacks After a decade, Microsoft has finally cut off support for the Windows Vista operating system.

      Mainstream support for Windows Vista ended back in April 10, 2012. However, its extended support for the second service pack lasted for five more years.

      By April 11, which is today, Microsoft will no longer offer hotfixes, security patches, or any sort of update to its users around the globe. With this in consideration, anyone using Windows Vista past the support date could leave the OS vulnerable to security risks and viruses that could harm the computer. Internet Explorer 9 on Vista has also been discontinued, which could expose users to even more threats. In line with this, Microsoft will also cease providing technical support for computers running the OS.

      While its predecessor, Windows XP, is still being used until today by at least 7.44% of users, according to NetMarketShare, Windows Vista is the complete opposite. The latest statistics show that it is now only used by 0.72% of users worldwide, with users jumping to more modern operating systems like Windows 7 and 8.1.

      Windows Vista was introduced back in January 30, 2007, bringing with it a new and updated graphical user interface and visual style called Aero. Through Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing initiative, the company had given a great deal of work towards making Vista more secure than its predecessors. Also, to make the OS work from home users, business users, and power users, Microsoft unveiled six editions of Windows Vista: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate.

      Although it can easily be seen that Microsoft touted Windows Vista back then as a futuristic operating system for users, the OS was easily targeted with many criticisms. For one, Vista had a high hardware and software demand when it was launched, and current PCs were not able to easily adapt to this, leading to poor PC performance. Moreover, the User Account Control (UAC) feature was panned by users over the number of authorization prompts the OS pushed out to users. Windows Vista also prohibited the copying of protected digital media, among other things. These issues caused the low adoption of the operating system.

      Former Microsoft executive Jim Allchin even presented Neowin's co-founder Steven Parker with a signed copy Improvements were made for its users through the release of Windows Vista Service Pack 2 in 2009, which eventually led to the development of its successor, Windows 7.

      Moving forward today, users can upgrade to Windows 10 in order to stay protected. You can purchase a copy of the latest OS, or opt to buy a new PC if your current one is not compatible.

      To Windows Vista, we bid you farewell.

      Neowin editor Timi Cantisano contributed to this report.

    • By JustinCharlier
      PSA: Windows Vista has less than 30 days until Microsoft ends its support
      by Justin Luna

      Heads up, Windows Vista users; the ageing operating system has less than 30 days before Microsoft's support for it gets permanently discontinued.

      By April 11 2017, Microsoft will pull the plug on its support for the nine-year-old OS. After this date, the Redmond giant will no longer provide security patches or hotfixes, and support options will not be available to its users. Mainstream support for Windows Vista already ended back in April 10, 2012, but its extended support for the OS' second service pack is still valid until the following month.

      Much like Windows XP's end of support, Microsoft warns that continuing to use Windows Vista could make a PC vulnerable to security risks and viruses. As the company notes, Internet Explorer 9 on Vista has long been discontinued, and surfing the web using the browser could expose the computer to even more threats. "As more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter more apps and devices that do not work with Windows Vista," Microsoft writes.

      Those running Microsoft Security Essentials will continue to get signature updates, albeit for a limited time only. Microsoft notes that MSE will only have limited effectiveness on PCs that do not have the latest security updates. "This means that PCs running Windows Vista will not be secure and will still be at risk for virus and malware," Microsoft explained.

      Windows Vista was introduced back in 2007, as the successor to Windows XP. Although it introduced many modern features, the OS was heavily panned due to its hardware demands, as well as restrictive security features like the User Account Control (UAC), among other criticisms.

      Moving forward, Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10 in order to stay protected. You can purchase a copy of the latest OS, or opt to buy a new PC if your current one is not compatible with Windows 10.

      Source: Microsoft (1) (2) via PC World

    • By VT-Wesley
      So Microsoft has made it somewhat easy to download images for DVD-Rs or USB keys for modern Windows. Unfortunately we are still at a point where the older stuff is very difficult to find and I dislike shady piracy sites. Is there a good/safe way to get legit Vista Home Premium and Office 2007 Home and Student disc images for service and repair jobs (i.e. I have the product keys, just no media to use them with)?
    • By Ian W
      I had originally wanted to include this in the Do you use Libraries and / or Saved Searches topic, but its size increased to the point that I felt that it warranted a new topic. Unfortunately, the poll in that topic suggested that only a scarce number of users actually use the Saved Search feature, with an even smaller number of users preferring it over Libraries.

      The Saved Search (Virtual Folder) feature would most likely be used more often (or even appreciated) if Microsoft had made it more prominent within the interface like it was in the beta iterations of Windows Vista—for example, in Beta 1 there was a total of 18 different virtual folders, unlike 8 in RTM—and if the company had not removed some of its best features while developing the operating system.

      Virtual folders were, at one time, intended to be the primary way that users would interact with files. With Windows Vista Beta 1, they replaced the links to the physical folders on the Start menu and they, perhaps equally as important, appeared prominently within the navigation pane in File Explorer. Note how in the screenshots shown above, the virtual folders in the navigation pane change depending on the type of folder displayed, with specialized virtual folders appearing for documents, music, pictures and videos, and also for their respective types of metadata.

      In addition, the navigation pane listed files with metadata in groups called "stacks," which are groups of similar files. It is worth noting that every time a new keyword was added to a file, a new stack would automatically be created—and displayed within the navigation pane—to hold all files with that keyword. I will get to stacks again in a moment, but I want to focus on a level of abstraction that is not available today with virtual folders.

      Users could drag and drop files into a virtual folder, which would then place the files in the corresponding physical folder; though not shown, users could also create new files from the context menu straight from within certain virtual folders which, as before, would place the new files in the virtual folder's corresponding physical folder.

      Files in virtual folders could also be arranged into groups—like today's physical and virtual folders—but a feature that is not available today is the ability to simply drag and drop files within one group to another group to modify or set properties on them. In the example shown above, dragging multiple untagged images into a group applies that group's metadata to all of those images simultaneously.

      On the subject of dragging and dropping files, like the RTM version of Windows Vista (and later versions of Windows) files in beta builds could be arranged into stacks, but it was also possible to drag and drop files into these stacks to automatically modify or set properties on the files (e.g., dragging a document without an assigned author to a stack based on an author would assign that author as a property of the document). In the example shown above, this rich functionality is used to apply a single tag to an image. Like the groups functionality shown above, however, multiple files could be added to stacks to apply metadata to all of those files simultaneously. Users could, as shown, create their own stacks from the context menu to facilitate personal customization of metadata.

      Stacks were not limited to modifying or setting a single property; dragging a file to an album stack, for example, could set multiple properties on the file at once, including the album artist and the album title.

      Stacks themselves could be grouped by file properties such as names, dates, ratings, keywords, et cetera.

      Microsoft's virtualized storage efforts would lead the company's Greg Sullivan to state:
      Microsoft's intention to provide virtualized storage to users was ultimately deemed by users to be too confusing. Users were not accustomed to the idea of virtual folders on the Start menu. While this may seem natural now—with Windows 7 and its Libraries feature—it was an idea that predated the release of Windows 7 by at least four years. The pain of this change was exacerbated by the fact that some of the virtual folders included names that were similar to the physical folders and that the same files would ultimately appear in both locations. The company significantly scaled back its plans and cut features as a result, perhaps starting with the removal of the virtual folders from the Start menu.

      You may be thinking, "Who cares?" If this functionality were available today—even in newer releases of Windows such as Windows 10—users could organize and sort their files in ways that would not be dependent on folder location, in ways that would be richer, and more personal.
    • By Ian W
      While using Windows Vista Beta 1 build 5112 to experiment with its virtual folder functionality my eye caught something while saving a file that it had seen previously: a file with distinct visual effects during the save process. This was not a visual artifact or a result of using pre-release software, but a preview representation of the file about to be saved, designed to aid the user during the save process.

      There are apparently only a very few references to this preview representation on the Internet. Paul Thurrott did share what were referred to as "interesting Vista prototypes," most of which depicted this preview representation, but there are no details about it provided in the article. Additionally, there are at least three patents that explicitly mention the feature, and at least one image included in what is apparently Microsoft's own documentation, but the scarcity of information is the reason I wanted to post this topic and discuss the feature with fellow Neowinians.

      For those interested, one can trace the history of the preview representation feature—preliminarily referred to as "Save Ghost"—back to "pre-reset 'Longhorn'" when Microsoft sought to create an "improved metadata management system" that largely focused on the property pane (i.e., the details pane). It is not the purpose of this post to discuss all of the aspects of this system—the patent, titled Metadata editing control, is available for viewing—as I want to focus solely on a single aspect of the system described in the patent, and that is the "Save Ghost" feature.

      Metadata editing control suggests that "Save Ghost" was conceived as a result of the ability to navigate based on properties (emphasis mine); image provided for context:

      Perhaps stated in a simple way: as part of the invention, an expandable dialog box with a property pane could be implemented into the operating system and it could allow users to navigate based not only on folders, but on properties. Because of the new storage capabilities, a preview representation, or ghost, could be part of this new dialog box to aid the the user during the save process, and to facilitate the creation of files with metadata properties.
      A continuation-in-part of Metadata editing control, titled Save Preview Representation of Files Being Created, provides additional reasons to include "Save Ghost." It describes how current user interfaces are ineffective in regards to "the way files are represented during the file creation process." Users always organize and / or view existing files while navigating, but such features are unavailable for files that have not yet been saved as there is no preview representation, and thus no visual confirmation of what an unsaved file could look like in File Explorer or where it could appear (e.g., in a group of files).
      As one would expect, Save Preview Representation of Files Being Created also elaborates the previous information provided by Metadata editing control in regards to user features. For instance, the patent mentions the ability to automatically assign properties "based on user navigation," which was previously alluded to. The sliver of text that focuses on this aspect of the ghost has been written in bold text in this topic for emphasis.
      It also suggests that the following aspects—some of which were alluded to but not explicitly mentioned in Metadata editing control—could have been implemented as part of the "Save Ghost":
      The ghost could be treated like a file already saved (e.g., selected, dragged, dropped)
        Users could overwrite an existing similar file (e.g., by dragging and dropping the ghost on to an existing file) and receive its metadata properties; if the user later decided, before completing the save process, that this was not desired, no file would be replaced and the original metadata values belonging to the ghost could be automatically reinstated into the details pane; completely cancelling the save process can remove the ghost (along with its metadata properties)
        Users could drag a ghost into a group to inherit that group's metadata properties; similarly, the ghost could change its location within the interface (e.g., position itself within another group) based on properties that were added by the user (e.g., added via the details pane)
        The system could be sophisticated to understand that when navigating to a new location, the user may not necessary want to add a property to the ghost
        A unique context menu with commands for the ghost could be incorporated
        The system could prevent the ghost from being saved to an invalid save location or from being moved outside of the Save As dialog, which could potentially prevent confusing user scenarios
      I realize that not all of what is described in the patents may have necessarily been included in the shipping product, but the information is intended to provide a general overview of the potential functionality. Note that some of the potential functionality was already included in pre-release Windows Vista.

      For illustrative purposes, an example animation of the ghost as it appears in Windows Vista Beta 1 build 5112 has been provided. The ghost features a subtle opacity change of the filename and thumbnail of the file about to be saved, and a distinct text color. Moreover, a tooltip appears when the user hovers a mouse cursor over the ghost to inform the user that the ghost is the file about to be saved. Please notice how in the above animation, simply navigating to a keyword automatically assigns that keyword as a property of the ghost in the details pane.

      It should be noted that, while not depicted in the animation above, changing the filename in the "File name" field also changes the filename of the ghost, and saving the ghost causes it to become a normal file. In other words, in these respects, the ghost is largely similar to the traditional file save process.

      While the feature may seem like a minor addition to the operating system, Microsoft's reasons to implement it were laudable. Alas, as indicated in the screenshot above, it was not included in Windows Vista (or subsequent versions of Windows). Perhaps it was scrapped because, like most of the virtual folder functionality in Windows Vista Beta, it was deemed to be too confusing.