Is Microsoft going back in time with Windows 7, before Windows Vista, and resurrecting bits and pieces of Longhorn? Could the crumbs of the original Longhorn project that were discarded on the way to Vista make the mother of all comebacks in Windows 7? Well, there are no official details from Microsoft pointing to the validity of this scenario, but the company did manage to leak just enough for such a perspective to be valid. In January 2008, while working to wrap up the RTM builds of Vista SP1, Windows Server 2008 SP1 and Windows XP SP3, Microsoft dropped Milestone 1 of Windows 7 in the laps of a selected group of partners.
The leaked Windows 7 M1 Ultimate Edition Build 6.1.6519.1 offers only a superficial evolution in comparison to Windows Vista. And is in fact not even a standalone platform, having to be installed on top of Vista. But at the same time, it does offer a sneak peek into the elements Microsoft plans to integrate in the successor of Windows Vista. One such clue is the HomeGroup. Designed to offer centralization of photos, music, videos and printers across the computers in the same household network, the HomeGroup is strangely reminiscent of the Longhorn Castle.
"The 'castle' feature allows users to have the networking functionality of the domain, including roaming the user's profile, machine trust and having a consistent user identity throughout the network. The main difference with Castle is that users do not have to setup a dedicated machine, such as a domain controller, to maintain the trust and identity relationship. It also makes it easy to share and access files on those computers. Each computer on the same subnet can discover and join an existing castle. Or, the user can create a Castle," Microsoft revealed.
"To join an existing castle, you must know the login credentials of an administrator account already part of the castle. Only non-blank passwords can grant access. This helps ensure only authorized computers join the castle (use of strong passwords for administrator accounts is highly recommended). When a computer joins a castle, the accounts on that computer will be added to the list of accounts accessible from any computer in the castle. User specific data (e.g. their password, access rights, and preferences) will be replicated on each computer in the castle and kept in sync. In addition, the newly joined computer will inherit and respect all policies from the Castle," Microsoft added.