I’ve been asked a few times lately about what’s developers should find cool about Vista besides the .NET Framework 3.0, and I figured I should post my response here too.  I can’t say enough good stuff about the native APIs in Vista – we’ve been pretty busy talking about the .NET Framework 3.0, but the native APIs deserve serious love as well.  You’ve probably already heard that there are 7000 new native APIs in Vista.  Here are my favorite features:


  • Sidebar:  The Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets platform lets you create a variety of customizable mini-applications that offer users information at a glance.  You can use JavaScript and DHTML to create rich gadgets that have access to the entire Vista platform, so you can keep your users in touch with the information they want.
  • P2P / People Near Me:  The Vista P2P platform includes powerful native APIs that help you build peer-to-peer applications.  The functionality in the Vista platform takes care of the infrastructure for discovery, connection, and communication between applications, whether we’re talking about two parties or on a multi-party mesh.  The P2P functionality transparently plugs into DNS, so peers can easily find and communicate with each other across the internet.  And the People Near Me feature locates other users on the same Internet access point.  The platform can even create an ad-hoc network directly between users who aren’t connected to the Internet.  (This – provisioning an ad-hoc wireless network between users who aren’t already connected to an access point – is one of the coolest bits of technology I can remember seeing.  It’s so cool that I initially didn’t believe the demos.)
  • RSS Platform:  the RSS platform (also available as part of the IE7 download) lets you build RSS-enabled applications without rewriting the basic building blocks of RSS infrastructure.  The Common Feed List, Feed Synchronization Engine, and Feed Store in Windows Vista give you support for all major ATOM and RSS formats, background scheduled updates, and APIs that expose a simple object model for feeds.  Including RSS support in your application has never been easier.
  • Integrated Search: On Vista, you can programmatically enable users to set properties on files they save.  Through Integrated Search, a user can then search on those properties using the Vista Common File Dialog. You can also write handlers for your file types that plug into the Live Icons thumbnail viewer in Integrated Search, which give users a look at what’s inside the file they’re looking for – the first screen of a video, the first slide in a deck, etc.
  • User Account Control (UAC):  As part of our commitment to security, UAC notifies users when an application is going to take an action which requires administrative privileges, and requires users to elevate their privileges with admin credentials in order to run the application.  This helps protect the user against a host of malware attacks.  You can embed a manifest in your applications that will cause Windows Vista to automatically prompt the user to elevate her credentials.  This helps you keep your users safer, whether they’re at home or in the office.

And that’s just scratching the surface.  There’s more stuff in Parental Controls, Crypto Next Generation Services, etc etc.  It’s really pretty remarkable.