Windows Vista is the name of the next version of Microsoft Windows, a proprietary graphical operating system used on personal computers, including home and business desktops, notebook computers, and media centers. Prior to the announcement of the Vista name on July 22, 2005, it was known by its codename Longhorn. As of September 2006, Windows Vista is at release candidate stage; Microsoft has stated the scheduled release dates for Windows Vista are currently November 2006 for business editions, and January 2007 for consumer editions. These release dates come more than five years after the release of Windows XP, Microsoft's current consumer and business operating system, making it the longest time span between major releases of Windows. (Microsoft has released several variants of Windows XP including 64-bit versions of Windows XP for both EMT64 and Itanium CPUs, Windows Media Center edition, and Windows Server during this period.)
Windows Vista has hundreds of new features, some of the most significant of which include an updated graphical user interface and visual style dubbed Windows Aero, improved searching features, new multimedia creation tools such as Windows DVD Maker, and completely redesigned networking, audio, print, and display sub-systems. Vista also aims to increase the level of communication between machines on a home network using peer-to-peer technology, making it easier to share files, password settings, and digital media between computers and devices. For developers, Vista introduces version 3.0 of the .NET Framework, which aims to make it significantly easier for developers to write high-quality applications than with the traditional Windows API.
Microsoft's primary stated goal with Vista, however, has been to improve the state of security in the Windows operating system. One of the most prevalent common criticisms of Windows XP and its predecessors are their commonly exploited security vulnerabilities and overall susceptibility to malware, viruses and buffer overflows. In light of this, then Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced in early 2002 a company-wide 'Trustworthy Computing initiative' which aims to incorporate security work into every aspect of software development at the company. Microsoft claimed it prioritized improving the security of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 above finishing Windows Vista, significantly delaying its completion.