Over the last week or so, our two "TV stations" - Channel 9 (for developers) and Channel 10 (for power users) - have been running a series of videos around Windows Vista. I thought I'd quickly highlight some of my favorite ones:
- Robert Fripp and the Windows Vista soundscapes: this is classic Channel 9 - a documentary-style video that shows the process leading to the Windows Vista startup sound. Mellow, ambient, ephemeral. I love Fripp's work - Equatorial Stars is a particular recommendation of mine (a collaborative project that he did with Brian Eno).
- Extreme WPF Makeover: this is something we've had hanging around for a while, but it's not had nearly enough exposure. We recorded a fly-on-the-wall video that shows the process Frog Design went through to redesign Radiant's point-of-sale system. It's an interesting introduction to the value a designer can offer - not just "adding pretty graphics", but rather the interaction design work that produces a measurably more efficient application.
- Transactional File System: this is a feature in Windows Vista that very few developers know about, but over the next five years has the potential to make a big difference to the stability and reliability of every application. Every file system and registry operation can be built as a full ACID transaction at the system level. This represents just a few of the many hundreds of new unmanaged APIs shipped with Windows Vista. Some great information from Jason Olsen on this here; with reference docs available here.
- Windows Stress: what happens within Microsoft when a Windows Vista or Longhorn Server daily build is ready? Thousands of machines both in the stress labs and around the Redmond campus spin up an insane stress test that sucks all the memory and handles and then pushes the machine to the limits with an intensive set of feature stress routines. This is an incredibly tough test pass that helps us find obscure bugs (like a race condition that only happens in a very unusual set of circumstances on a particular piece of hardware). It also helps us make an assessment of the overall robustness of the operating system as we get closer to launch. I've been fascinated by what this team does for years; this video exposes their work to the outside world for the first time.