Microsoft & .NET.NETLonghorn Coming Attractions - Part 2

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Longhorn Coming Attractions – Part 1” offered a glimpse of some new features in the Longhorn operating system. This second installment explores some of the other interesting features and provides some of the facts that you have to know when working with the current build of Longhorn.

User Interface

Longhorn ships with a set of cool user interfaces. For instance, if you hover the mouse pointer over the top portion of an open window, you can view a dropdown arrow on the right-hand side that, when collapsed, enables you to navigate to the other corners of your computer (see Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1: Window before Mouse Hover

Figure 2: Window after Mouse Hover

You can tweak the appearance of the user interfaces by choosing one of the four different themes:

  • Slate (default)
  • Jade
  • Windows Classic
  • Windows XP Style

Figures 3 and 4 show screenshots of the Jade theme.

Figure 3: Jade Theme – Start Menu

Figure 4: Jade Theme – Dialog Box

ZIP Folder Creation

An interesting Longhorn feature is the ability to directly create a compressed ZIP folder without using any third-party tools such as WinZip. You need only right-click any open window and select the option “Add to Compressed ZIP Folder.” Unfortunately, you can’t create a normal folder in the same way.

Creating Users

The process of creating users is very interesting. When you boot your system, it asks you to press CTRL+ALT+DEL and the text for the same drops smoothly from the top portion of the screen. It displays a list of all users as soon as you press the required keys. You also have an option to shut down the system. Viewing the complete action is very nice; I suggest you have a look at it if you get a chance.

Help Topics

The Longhorn help topics are not yet fully developed. When I selected the help option within Notepad, some topics that are not connected with the application opened. This is a common glitch in a pre-release build of any product, but I hope the beta build of Longhorn will supply a high-quality help system.

System Information

The Longhorn operating system name reads as Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional 6.0.4074. Microsoft should resolve this issue in the next build as well.

Installation of Additional Software

I didn’t experience any difficulties when installing additional application software (such as Microsoft Office 2003 Professional, Download Accelerator, and so forth), but when I opened Microsoft Outlook, it showed the CSS source code shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Microsoft Outlook Startup Screen in Longhorn

The current build of Longhorn doesn’t support Yahoo Messenger. It also is incompatible with Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1, so I advise against installing that software. I’d like the next build to offer much broader support for all software.

Updated Browser and E-Mail Client

The current Longhorn build also ships with new versions of Internet Explorer (IE) and Outlook Express. IE comes with a new feature that blocks pop-up windows (see Figure 6).

Figure 6: Pop-up Window Blocker

File Replacement

Another cool feature is that the file-replacement dialog shows a small preview of the item you are about to replace (see Figure 7).

Figure 7: Replace Dialog Window

System Audio

Sound is one area that requires further improvement. Even though I applied default sounds to various tasks (such as system startup and shutdown), I can’t hear them during those particular events. Moreover, the sound and audio devices applet in the control panel doesn’t provide many default sounds.

Picture Viewer

The picture viewer (see Figures 8 and 9) is really cool. It has a built-in slide show functionality with which you can view all your pictures one by one. The bottom portion of the viewer consists of navigation and zoom options.

Figure 8: Picture Viewer – Top Portion

Figure 9: Picture Viewer – Bottom Portion

File Search

Microsoft has improved the search option on the Start menu. It includes options for choosing a file type and its size (see Figure 10).

Figure 10: The Search Box Screenshot

File Properties

The properties dialog that you get upon right-clicking a file has a new look. It has separate sections for each item, and it opens up in an enlarged window (see Figure 11).

Figure 11: Properties Dialog

Opening Files

With Longhorn, you need not manually specify the application with which to open a specific file. The “Open With” dialog lists a set of recommended programs from which to choose (see Figure 12).

Figure 12: The Popular “Open With” Dialog Revisited

Shutting Down Longhorn

The shut down menu option is completely different from that of earlier Windows versions. If you click the down pointed arrow near the shut down menu item, you will see the list of options shown in Figure 13. You can then choose one of the options according to your requirements.

Figure 13: Good Bye Longhorn

You can access the documentation of the Longhorn software development kit (SDK) from the MSDN site (, or you can access it on your system after you’ve installed it. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss more about the SDK. I will examine more about this kit in a later article.

About the Author

Anand Narayanaswamy (Microsoft MVP) works as an independent consultant and runs NetAns Technologies (, which provides affordable Web-hosting services. Anand also runs ( and ( He regularly contributes articles, and product and book reviews for various Web sites. He can be reached at

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