There have been screenshots and reports from Vista Community Technical Preview 1, or build 5219. Amongst various other items that seem to be taken directly from Apple (and some that Apple took from Microsoft when they annoucned them years ago), they have added some spit an polish. They still have a long way to go, but I’m seeing hints of stuff that I actually like in Vista.
The main addition that I like is a Windows Calendar, screenshot <%popup(20050921-vista-5219cal.jpg|800|600|here)%>. It’s not fully featured yet, but looks like it’ll be a relatively simple appointment tracker similar to Apple’s iCal. It will publish to RSS and the iCal Standard. Finally, I think this is going to move further into the direction I would like to see in Windows… an integrated, fully featured, and above all usable solution for keeping me organized. It’s too early to assume that it will sync with my Palm, but I’m hopeful. They’re also showing a new unified contacts back end that all applications can tie into and use. Much as I like the idea of competition in software, I really like the idea of having everything tied into a single management facility on the OS. Makes thigngs seem more unified. Presumably, Outlook will use the same location to store its events, such that a user would be able to see his or her appointments for both.
They’re also renaming Outlook Express to Windows Mail, and adding Spam filtering. They’re changing the backend up to store emails as individual .eml files, with a database to index it all. This is getting away from Outlook Express’ proprietary mailbox format. Honestly, this seems more along the lines of a solution that I’m interested in. For my own personal use, I don’t need the “Business” feel of MS Outlook, but I need calendaring, mail, and the like.
I don’t like the way Microsoft is deploying Direct X at the expense of OpenGL in Vista, and I still refuse to get into the .NET juggernaut. Neither Microsoft nor Apple are as “open” as I’d like them to be, and both like to create their own spin on standards and say, “Oh, but ours is just a little bit better!” But, both Mac Tiger and Windows Vista both look like contenders for my desktop next Christmas.