Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherlund said in a note to clients that Microsoft may send the final preview version of Vista to testers later this week or early next, giving credence to the developer's promise to ship the new operating system to business customers in November and roll it out on retail PCs in January 2007.
According to articles by the Associated Press and Reuters news services, Sherlund told clients that "The [Vista] team seems to be making great progress in addressing issues of performance, reliability and compatibility."
Rumors of an imminent update to Vista have been making the rounds for nearly a week, with some Windows enthusiast sites pegging Friday as the likely roll-out of what may be dubbed "RC2," for Release Candidate 2. Previously, Microsoft said that RC1 would be the one-and-only release candidate build, but that position may have weakened.
The ActiveWin Web site on Wednesday posted a message it said had been temporarily posted to the official Vista "Get Ready" page on Microsoft's Web site. The message, which has been removed, read in part:
"This page includes information to help you download Windows Vista RC2, a new test build. This build (5744) has a number of improvements and updates from previous builds, and has been through daily testing processes to refine quality and performance."
Sherlund has a "Buy" rating on Microsoft.
In early morning trading, the company's share price was down 2 cents to $27.92 after posting a $.57 gain Wednesday.
Also Wednesday, CRN reported that Microsoft will unveil a free- or reduced-price coupon for Vista upgrades with PCs sold during the fourth quarter.