About 500,000 software developers and IT pros who subscribe to Microsoft's technical Web sites will receive copies of the new "community technology preview" version of Vista. The company has been releasing the preview versions as a way to solicit more feedback on the product from customers. Because of the program, Microsoft is receiving "more frequent and better" advice from testers on the upcoming product, Microsoft senior director Shanen Boettcher said during a conference call with reporters and analysts Monday.
Windows Vista, due in the second half of next year, will replace Windows XP, which Microsoft released in 2001, as the company's standard operating system for PCs. Microsoft shipped an initial beta of Vista in July, and has shipped two community technology previews so far.
The new preview version of Vista contains new features including the anti-spyware utility "Windows Defender," a data-protection scheme called "BitLocker" that encrypts a laptop's hard drive so its data can't be used by a thief, and improvements to Vista's new desktop user interface. Microsoft plans to have all of Vista's features complete by the February test version, said Boettcher.