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Microsoft Ships First Release Candidate of Vista

Microsoft will broaden distribution of the first "release candidate" of Windows Vista to as many as five million testers beginning this week, after sending initial versions out late last week.

Microsoft will broaden distribution of the first "release candidate" of Windows Vista to as many as five million testers beginning this week, after sending initial versions out late last week.

The company opened up access to RC1 to Microsoft Technical Beta (TechBeta) and Technology Adoption Program (TAP) participants on Friday. Tuesday, the company made RC1 more broadly available, according to statements on Microsoft's Website.

Vista's release candidate status tends to indicate that the company's first major operating system upgrade in six years is on track for release to business customers in November and to consumers early next year.

At the same time, the company officially announced pricing for the various editions of the long-awaited operating system. Interestingly, the prices announced this week are the same as the ones Amazon.com prematurely posted on its Web site last week. That would tend to indicate that the commercial availability date listed by Amazon -- January 30, 2007 -- is correct as well.

This week, Microsoft will post RC1 to its Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet Web sites for subscribers to those services to download. In addition, it has reopened its Windows Vista Customer Preview Program (CPP) and will release RC1 to several million users to test in coming days, the company said in a statement.

The RC stage is the final phase of the product release cycle at Microsoft, coming after the official end of beta testing and is the last step before the so-called "golden code" is "released to manufacturing" (also called RTM). Typically, Microsoft will go through two or three RCs before RTM.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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