The new MSDN Windows Vista Longhorn Developer Center is live, including pointers to the download for the WinFX Runtime Components Beta 1 (formerly code-named the ‘Microsoft® Pre-Release Software Code Named “Avalon” and “Indigo” Beta1 RC.’) The WinFX Runtime Components includes versions of the Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly “Avalon”), Windows Communication Foundation (formerly “Indigo”), and “InfoCard” for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

This is a huge point in a long journey. At the PDC in 1992, Microsoft introduced Win32™, the programming model that would form the basis of application development for Windows NT and Windows 95 and all subsequent operating systems. At the same time, Microsoft outlined a vision for computing in which we enabled developers to create applications that were more reliable and scalable, better looking, and connected with all the latest hardware and with the Internet more easily than ever before. The advances in Windows since then have been tremendous, with huge steps forward in the operating system reliability, security, and stability and have created an ecosystem of tens of thousands of ISVs and millions of applications.

At PDC 2000, Microsoft debuted the .NET Framework, which introduced a new managed programming model on top of our existing Windows operating systems. The .NET Framework is designed to improve developer productivity and increase application reliability and security by providing a fully managed application environment. The .NET Framework introduced managed code as an advancement to developer productivity as well as the common language runtime (CLR) to begin the process of removing common vectors for security and reliability vulnerabilities. The .NET Framework today is in use in over 60% of the Fortune 100 and has been deployed to more than 90M systems worldwide through Windows Update and OEM preinstallation. It has proven itself to deliver higher performance than many J2EE application servers and has overtaken Java as a development environment in major studies. Key ISVs such as Broderbund, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft (with Windows XP Media Center Edition, among others) have adopted managed code on the .NET Framework as have key enterprises such as Citigroup, Allstate, and Marks and Spencer.

Windows Vista will introduce a evolution for both Win32™ and the Windows Vista-era advances to the .NET Framework, now called WinFX™. These two programming models will enable every developer to target the advances in Windows Vista, including improved graphics and presentation systems, improved connectivity, and substantial advances in the core security and reliability of Windows.

Windows Vista brings to the table a substantial number of advances:

Security: UAP and NAP Framework
• Windows Vista improves the Windows privilege model to help prevent users from running programs that attempt to perform operations that the user doesn’t really intend or authorize with User Account Protection (formerly called Least-privileged User Account, or LUA), which enables users to run at low privilege most of the time, while being able to easily run applications requiring more privilege as necessary.
• In addition, the Network Access Protection (NAP) framework enables system administrators to define and enforce policies that require network clients to establish their trustworthiness and compatibility with the network before being given a specified access. Developers use API-level access to NAP and the Windows Filtering Platform (WFP) to reduce user and administrator security workloads by providing application-specific security settings supporting Firewall and NAT transversal, allowing more detailed (down-to-packet-level) screening of data transmissions, and isolating and validating new tools and their configurations prior to fully installing and integrating them into a running system.
Reliability: Restart manager, I/O cancellation, app feedback
Windows Vista adds an extensive set of new APIs and developer services to make applications predictable and manageable including the Restart Manager, improved I/O cancellation support and the capability to integrate into the Windows Feedback Platform (WFP).
• Restart Manager detects processes that have files in use and gracefully stops and restarts them without the need to restart the entire machine. Applications that are written to take advantage of the new Restart Manager features can be restarted and restored to the same state and with the same data as before the restart.
• Improved I/O cancellation support enables synchronous file I/O calls to be canceled (OpenFile or GetFileAttributes, for example).
• Enhanced feedback and diagnostic mechanisms in the Windows Feedback Platform enable developers to get information when their applications crash.
Deployment: ClickOnce and Windows Installer (MSI) Advances
• Windows Vista integrates MSI with User Account Protection and with the Restart Manager and extends the .NET Framework 2.0 set of ClickOnce features to take advantage of the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) to allow a trickle-feed update of files and also enables an application to create file associations (registering itself as the handler for a specific file type) without having to request additional permissions.
• Mobility: Aux display, universal Ink, universal recognition Power Management; Network Awareness

• Windows Vista introduces APIs for the new auxiliary display technology, which gives users quick access to useful information such as calendar appointments and the latest e-mail message even when the computer is in standby or hibernating, media playback control when the computer is off, and other application notifications.
• Windows Vista also improves today’s Tablet PC inking technology with Ink Analysis, which unifies today’s Ink Divider (which enables developers to differentiate writing strokes from drawing strokes) and the Recognizer Context (which enables developers to convert ink strokes to text).
• With power policy manager, developers can ensure efficient and appropriate power usage for applications
• User experience may be configured according to system state (e.g. online/offline

Data: RSS, XML Paper Specification
Windows Vista introduces features oriented around finding, organizing, and sharing data, including XPS (formerly “Metro”) and a complete RSS (Really Simple Syndication) subsystem that enables developers to find and consume RSS feeds through system-level APIs instead of through a dedicated RSS reader.
Connectivity: Peer-to-peer (PNRP), QoS
• Windows Vista supports the Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP), which enables dynamic name publication and resolution.  Today, names are assigned to computers in a relatively static fashion along with their IP addresses.  PNRP provides a much more dynamic ability to register multiple names on a computer, to have multiple computers register a single name, and to even have applications register names.  Name records can contain additional metadata describing the associated resource. All of this is done in a secure fashion that prevents spoofing.  Developers can use standard name resolution APIs, like getaddrinfo, to resolve their PNRP names.
• Quality of Service (QoS) technologies manage the transmission of particular types of data—for instance streaming media—to ensure that data is transmitted at the right time with the right speed. Windows Vista extends today’s QoS functionality by adding network awareness and greater user-friendliness through the quality Windows Audio Video Experience (qWAVE) package and a new implementation of the Network Location Awareness Service (NLA2).
Search: IFilter extensions
• Windows Vista extends the existing Windows search technology enabling developers to access the content and metadata of application-specific data files.
UX: AERO, new controls
• Windows Vista introduces a new graphics driver model that has built-in fault tolerance to enable constant use of the graphics processor unit (GPU) for the rich graphics sported by the operating system and the applications. The GPU memory manager and scheduler in this driver model enable multiple graphics applications to use the GPU to run simultaneously.
• Windows Vista also enhances look and feel technologies for developers with innate support for AERO themes and common controls. By using the AERO themes, application developers can use the new look of Windows Vista within their application. The design and functionality of applications that use these themes will appear to be an extension of Windows Vista. This creates a consistency within the Windows Vista environment that will put the end user at ease and provide a level of confidence.