This is the second part of a two part series. If you haven't read the first, go do so now! (Wow, Google has no sense of humor).
Now that you're back, I hope you enjoyed all the pretty pictures. It is time to get to work.
DISCLAIMER: Once again, this is pre-beta software. Nothing has been finalized and performance should not be taken to be at all indicative of the final release of Windows Vista.
Doesn't like my Althon Mobile
Windows Presentation Foundation
What was once labeled Avalon is now to be known as Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF from here on out). WPF replaces Microsoft's decrepit old system of bitmaps and boxes with a whole world of new capabilities. These new whiz-bang developments include support for animations, vectors, embedded video, 3D, alpha channel (transparency), and much more. If this sounds a little bit like the capabilities of Macromedia/Adobe's Flash then you've been paying attention. This provides designers functionality much like Flash throughout the operation system. Unlike Flash though, this is built deep into Windows and should be mostly transparent to the user. There is a performance penalty for all this eye candy though. To run the full Aero interface with a theme like Glass you will need a graphics card that has 64 megabytes of memory with full DirectX 9 support. Those are minimums of course; you'll want more. My current card, an aging ATi All-in-Wonder 9600 XT, managed to run everything but did not do so 100% smoothly. Many window animations and the simple act of resizing a window could cause an annoying amount of sloth.
A feature that I have been moaning about for years is scaling. Specifically, scaling the Windows interface such that you can run at high resolutions without having to squint. If you've ever tried to setup a computer for someone who is older or has weakening vision, you know that they generally like lower resolutions since this makes everything larger and easier to read. Fine, while this was a waste of a good monitor, in the CRT days at least it was a crisp low resolution. This changed with the advent of the LCD, monitors and projectors alike. Case in point, my grandfather has two computers, each with a nice Samsung LCD panel as a monitor (yes my grandfather, nearly 80, has two computers with LCDs monitors; what can I say, he has a business and he likes his digital cameras). The problem is that at the native resolution of each panel (1280 x 1024) he has trouble reading text. Now, due to their fixed array of pixels, LCDs tend to look like crap at non-native resolutions, so we cannot just drop the resolution to make the problem go away, plus his pictures would loose some of their pop. Instead we are forced into trying to convince Windows and the programs that he uses into changing. Not a pretty picture or a simple process, nor can you scale everything. With WPF this problem should finally start to disappear. Vectors can be easily scaled and still look good. I hope Microsoft implements this in a simple manner and then forces everyone else to like a bloody dictator. As of yet I haven't seen to much of it.