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|Version of Microsoft Windows|
|OS family||Windows NT|
The development of Windows Vista has gone through many stages, starting from 2001 (under the codename Whistler +1) to its final release in November 2006. Windows Vista (or 'Longhorn' as it was originally known) was intended as a bridging release between 'Whistler' (Windows XP) and the later version of Windows 'Blackcomb' (which much later became Windows 7). Feature creep became an issue as development progressed, and stability was a major issue throughout development. As a result, development of Windows Codename "Longhorn" was reset, soon after the compilation of build 4093. These are the post-reset Longhorn/Vista builds.
The original code base for Longhorn was Windows Server 2003 Release Candidate 1. Omega-13 builds also use Windows Server 2003 as a base, however, the build used as the base is from the Service Pack 1 branch, which is a somewhat more stable codebase. In April 2005, a pre-beta build was released to testers (build 5048). This build showed the progress made since the reset and also proved much more stable than previous builds. Build 5112 (Beta 1) was released to the public soon afterward and showcased an early version of the Aero interface, as well as many stability improvements over XP. Over the next year, many builds were pushed to testers in a public beta program. The final build out to public preview testers was Release Candidate 2 (build 5744). The RTM build was build 6000.16386.
Windows Vista came in many editions. Unlike Windows XP, there was no special edition for Media Center and 64-bit capability, since these features were included in at least one of the consumer editions. Windows Vista also did not have an embedded version, perhaps due to the considerable grunt required to run optimally.
- Starter: This edition is intended for emerging markets and low-cost PCs. As in XP, the 3-program limit was there, and only 1GB RAM was accepted. Other software restrictions applied as well. This version is hence not available in 64-bit.
- Home Basic: Found in low cost to mid-end, this version of Windows Vista does not fully have Aero (though it has DWM) and hence does not have effects like transparency and 3D Flip. Windows Media Center is also dropped from this build. Parental Controls is included, however. It does not have the hardware and 3-program limit.
- Home Premium: The consumer version of Windows Vista, this version includes full Aero functionality and Windows Media Center. It also includes Premium Games (eg - Inkball).
- Business: The business-oriented version of Windows Vista, it contains several features like full RDP (client/host) capability, Group Policy, and domain joinability. However, Windows Media Center and Parental Controls are not included, and Premium Games are disabled by default.
- Ultimate: The top consumer variant of Windows Vista, it is a merger of the features included Windows Vista Home Premium and Business. BitLocker is included in this version.
- Enterprise: The business variant of Windows Vista. It is similar to Ultimate, but without Windows Media Center and includes enterprise-specific tools.
Note that certain features (like Aero or TV support) may require premium/different/upgraded hardware and so may not be available on all PCs's.
These builds are post-reset Longhorn builds, primarily focused on reintegrating features from the pre-reset builds while maintaining stability. Most of these builds are similar to Windows XP in overall look and feel. Few builds from this stage of development have been released, officially or otherwise.
These builds are the official Vista Beta 1 builds. They contain remnants of the Longhorn branding, and are mostly stable.
Pre-Beta 2 Fork
These builds were released or documented during the evolution of Vista from Beta 1 to Beta 2-quality.
These builds were mainly intended for consumers, and were considered beta-quality. However, these builds can be somewhat unstable, and are not yet fully feature-complete.
These builds consist of interim builds designed to indicate progress to close partners and trusted testers. They are generally more stable than Beta 2.
Release Candidate 1 was feature complete, and contained most of the UI and features intended for RTM.
This is an interim build, intended for close partners, which is actually a RTM Escrow build. Therefore, the name of RC2 is actually a misnomer.