01:54 PM

Microsoft Re-Opens Vista RC1 For New Testers

At a Microsoft site, users can request a DVD or download the 3 Gbyte file for the 32-bit version of the operating system.

Microsoft on Thursday reopened the Windows Vista preview program to users who took a pass on the operating system's Beta 2 but want to test Release Candidate 1.

The Windows Vista Customer Preview Program (CPP) is now accepting new registrations, a Microsoft spokesperson said Thursday. At the CPP site, users can request a DVD or download the 3GB .iso file for the 32-bit version of the OS. (The 64-bit edition is also available, and weighs in at approximately 4GB.) U.S. shipping and handling costs for the DVD add up to $5; to install Vista's RC1 from the .iso file, users must have access to a DVD burner.

Although Microsoft posted the .iso files for downloading last week, only users who had registered for the Beta 2 in June were able to install the update. This is the first chance people who missed Beta 2 have had to get their hands on RC1.

Microsoft has touted plans to issue up to 5 million copies of RC1 to testers as it expands the program. "The feedback received thus far from testers has been extremely valuable," said the company spokesperson, "and Microsoft expects that by expanding the CPP with RC1, the Windows Vista team will gather even more worthwhile input."

If Microsoft holds to its promised schedule, Windows Vista will be available to volume licensing customers in November, and in general availability in January 2007. According to recently-posted sales listings for the retails versions of Vista on, the operating system will ship January 30.

The CPP site can be found here.

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