Monday, Microsoft released a December Windows Vista Community Technology Preview (CTP), or build 5270, to beta testers and Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN) subscribers. The latest Vista CTP release has many improvements with an emphasis on new security performance and mobility, and user interface features. Along with build 5270, Microsoft also included an updated build of Windows Longhorn Server that testers can install from the same DVD images as the Vista CTP.

Windows Vista build 5270 includes an integrated and improved version of Windows Defender (previously Windows AntiSpyware), new Internet Explorer (IE) 7 security features, improved parental controls, a more responsive and near-final user interface, improved power management support, an improved Superfetch feature that now supports removable storage in addition to USB memory keys, an updated version of full-volume encryption that's been renamed to Bit Locker, and new versions of Windows Media Player11 and Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, among other features.

While many of these features existed in an interim build that Microsoft released in November (but never designated it as a CTP build), some are quite new. For example, the software giant issued two versions of the Vista CTP/Longhorn Server DVD image; one of these staged versions implements the Vista quick-install functionality Microsoft has been promising. With the quick-install functionality, testers can install the Vista CTP build in about 15 minutes instead of the typical 60 minutes or more.

In a conference call with the press Monday, Shanen Boettcher, the senior director of the Windows Client group, announced the new features of the December Vista CTP build, and inadvertently verified my earlier report that the next Vista CTP build will occur in February 2006--not January as previously expected.

I'll be examining the Vista build 5270 and providing an exhaustive review on the SuperSite for Windows, which should be available later today. For now, there are various screen-shot galleries available on the site that show major new features and changes.
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