Microsoft previews Vista & Office 12

Good old Gatesy has climbed aboard the platform at Microsoft's Professional Developers' Conference in Los Angeles to eulogise about the next version of Windows and Office 12. Jump in for a look at the new features that are getting your PC excited

It's been a long time coming, but Bill Gates has finally let slip some of the new features in the upcoming Windows Vista (formerly codenamed Longhorn), and the new Office 12.

Aimed at giving developers the opportunity to 'take software to new heights', Vista contains a number of much-rumoured new desktop gadgets. These include RSS newsfeeds (which Microsoft will rename as 'web feeds') running on the desktop outside the browser, and a search function in the start-up menu.

We're not sure entirely why as yet, but users will also be able to flip windows around to view them from the other side, and applications can be saved as thumbnails.

Office 12, meanwhile, has been completely redesigned, replacing the old UI's traditional menus and toolbars with command tabs which disappear when not in use. In theory, this makes switching between the suite's different capablities such as Excel and PowerPoint much easier.

'Live Preview' technology will additionally show you how changes you are making will affect the final outcome, and 'Super Tooltips' aim to aid the confused without requiring knowledge of techie terminology.

Both Vista and Office '12' are a way off, though – the expected launch will be in the second half of 2006. Until then, you can swot up on the new features and peruse more screenshots at