Microsoft Starts Vista RC1 Public Rollout - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Starts Vista RC1 Public Rollout

Microsoft is offering Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 to users who downloaded Beta 2 of the next-generation operating system in June.

Microsoft Corp. Wednesday began offering Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 (RC1) to users who had downloaded the Beta 2 of the next-generation operating system in June.

"The final major pre-release of Windows Vista -- Release Candidate 1 (RC1) -- is now available for priority access by Customer Preview Program (CPP) participants only," Microsoft said on the CPP Web site Wednesday.

"If you registered for this program in June, please look for a recent e-mail message from Microsoft (sent in early September) with information regarding RC1," the site stated.

Although Microsoft has said it will re-open CPP to new participants this month -- it closed access to Vista's Beta 2 in late June, three weeks after it first made the preview available -- it was vague when that might be. "If you are not registered but would like to receive Windows Vista RC1, the CPP will open to new participants in the coming weeks. Please check this site periodically for updates," Microsoft said.

Although users of Microsoft's Vista newsgroup were unanimous in saying that they had not yet received e-mail notification -- which will include a registration key necessary to install RC1 -- the .iso file has been posted to Microsoft's download site for both the 32- and 64-bit versions. The former is listed as 2.52GB, while the latter weighs in at 3.59GB.

Microsoft wants to put RC1 into the hands of as many as 5 million users worldwide. Friday, Jim Allchin, the co-president of the company's platform division, urged testers to pound on RC1, and said the company was relying on them to find any undiscovered bugs.

"There's still a lot of testing to do," Allchin wrote in an entry to the Vista team's blog. "I'm asking you to once again put the pedal to the metal and send us feedbackhelp us give [customers] the best experience possible."

RC1 has been getting mixed reviews. While some reviewers have said it's nearly ready for prime time, others -- including many Microsoft partners -- claim it's not.

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 Amazon.com, the operating system will ship January 30.

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