LabVIEW and other NI tools to be Vista-compatible

12 December 2006

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National Instruments is announcing that NI LabVIEW, the graphical design platform for test, control and embedded system development, as well as other NI application software and device drivers, will be compatible with Windows Vista. Windows Vista, the latest version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, is scheduled for commercial release in early 2007 and features significant updates and changes that will impact engineering and scientific applications, including a focus on increased security, improved search capabilities, additional application programming interfaces (APIs) for controlling new aspects of the operating system and a 64-bit edition.

Working with Microsoft, National Instruments has been preparing for the release of Windows Vista so NI customers can transition smoothly and have access to the tools, resources and knowledge required to quickly adopt this new operating system. NI application software including LabVIEW, LabWindows/CVI, Measurement Studio and SignalExpress, as well as NI hardware drivers for PCI Express, PCI, PXI and USB devices, will be available for use with Windows Vista shortly after Microsoft releases the operating system to the general public.

Dr James Truchard, NI President, Co-founder and CEO, comments: "The freedom to use the latest commercial off-the-shelf technology for test, control and design applications has always been one of the primary forces driving virtual instrumentation. Windows Vista has been one of the most anticipated new technologies in recent years and, as a frequent collaborator with Microsoft, we have been preparing for its release by ensuring our customers are ready for the new operating system."

User Account Control (UAC)

While Windows Vista contains many new features and changes, one aspect of Windows Vista that will affect engineers and scientists is an increased focus on PC security. Windows Vista includes a new user privilege model known as User Account Control (UAC) that is designed to prevent viruses and other unwanted software from gaining control of a PC. Under UAC, all users will operate as non-administrators while performing common tasks. Only users with administrative privileges can execute security-sensitive operations such as installing software or changing firewall settings. Engineers and scientists building mission-critical systems or controlling production lines and manufacturing test systems with LabVIEW, the LabVIEW Real-Time module, NI TestStand and other application software will benefit from the added security of UAC. NI is updating application software such as LabVIEW to work under the new limitations defined by Windows Vista.

Microsoft has also revamped the search functionality in Windows Vista. The new Windows Instant Search feature offers improved search capabilities over previous versions of the Windows operating system. Windows Vista indexes files, including words or phrases inside files or documents, and provides search results dynamically as users type new search parameters. Overall, these search improvements simplify the process of finding saved information or data stored on a PC. NI extends this search approach with the DIAdem DataFinder and the new NI DataFinder Server Edition. These tools help engineers not only locate saved files but also mine files for relevant data using parametric and trend searches, a common need for engineers performing validation tests.

Developers creating software for Windows have long been accustomed to programmatically interacting with the operating system through calls to the Win32 API. For example, developers use the Win32 DLLs to access functions that control the network settings for a PC, interact with the file system or control window characteristics. Windows Vista features a completely new set of .NET Framework-based APIs known as .NET Framework 3.0. The .NET Framework 3.0 libraries are designed to control features not found in older versions of Windows, such as the new libraries for speech recognition and generation. Because users have had the ability to integrate LabVIEW and other NI application software with .NET Framework-based code for many years, they can immediately incorporate these new Windows Vista features into their applications.

64-bit edition

Another key aspect of the Windows Vista release is that users can choose either the 32-bit or 64-bit edition, depending on their computer processors. While 64-bit processors are not necessarily faster than their 32-bit counterparts, they can address twice as much memory in a single clock cycle. By working with computers that have more than 4 GB of RAM, the 64-bit version of Windows Vista can support memory-intensive applications, such as vision acquisition and intense processing applications, to realise performance improvements not possible on 32-bit operating systems. LabVIEW and other 32-bit application software packages function normally on the 64-bit version of Windows Vista because of a Microsoft abstraction layer; however, the 64-bit version does require 64-bit hardware drivers.

NI will make available 64-bit drivers for Windows-based devices shortly after the official Microsoft release of Windows Vista in 2007. Updated application software will also be available to current members of the NI Standard Service Program (SSP) shortly after the release of Windows Vista.

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