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Microsoft Releases Windows Vista Beta 1

On Wednesday, Microsoft as expected released the first beta release of Windows Vista client, formerly code-named Longhorn, an early test release of IE 7 for Windows XP, and an early technical preview of the complementary server.

Microsoft has reached what it deems to be a significant milestone in the development of its next version of Windows--the first beta release--but partners are largely unimpressed with the unfinished code.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant announced on Wednesday the availability of the first official beta of its newly named Windows Vista, formerly code-named Longhorn.

At the recent TechEd 2005, Microsoft executives said Windows Longhorn beta 1 would be available in July. It is the first major upgrade to the operating-system client since Windows XP shipped in October of 2001, aside from the security-focused Windows XP SP2 released last year.

Microsoft also announced an early beta of Windows server code that will be handed out to a small number of testers, as well as the availability of Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP Service Pack 2 for testing and evaluation through the Technical Beta Program and MSDN. The naming convention for the Longhorn server code has not yet been determined, Microsoft said.

Executives from Microsoft acknowledged that the Windows Vista client beta 1 release is aimed primarily at developers and IT administrators and lacks many of the end-user features originally planned for the upgrade--most notably the WinFS file system, which won't be available until after Vista ships.

Beta 1 will incorporate much of the functionality of the Virtual Folder feature, which will allow end users to search and organize information more easily and stack results in graphical folders. Yet that capability and search engine will be far more developed in the final code, executives said.

Beta 2, which will be more full-featured, is due in early 2006, Microsoft said.

Partners are pleased that the company has released Windows Vista 1 after such a long wait but many said they will not heavily promote it to their clients until the actual release date draws closer and the feature list is complete.

"We'll put it into a test lab, but we're not talking to customers about it yet," said Stephen Moss, COO of NSPI, a Microsoft partner in Roswell, Ga. "We're not comfortable talking about what, in fact, is still fiction."

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