Pre-beta test builds of the first service pack for Microsoft's Windows Vista went out to a "select group of testers," according to a company spokeswoman. "For Windows Vista, our current expectation is that a beta will be made available sometime this year," she said in an e-mail to InformationWeek.
Microsoft also released a pre-beta build of Windows XP SP3, which also went to a small group of testers. The spokesman said they're planning to deliver SP3 for Windows XP in the first half of next year.
"Providing early test builds is a standard practice that helps us incorporate customer feedback and improve the overall quality of the product," the spokesman added.
Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the SANS Institute and chief technology officer for the Internet Storm Center, said he's glad that Microsoft is pushing out pre-beta builds for users to examine. "It's a good idea for them to come out with a preview of the SP," he said. "They're big packages. Typically, they're security fixes and performance upgrades and new drivers and sometimes new fixes. It's good to get a lot of people looking at them."
Ullrich also said he's not only pleased to see Microsoft pushing out a service pack so close on the heels of the release of Windows Vista, but he's glad to see the company staying on top of Windows XP, even though it's no longer in the company's limelight.
"A long, long list of patches for XP has accumulated since Service Pack 2 came out --maybe 100," he added. "If you installed your system new, it would take a lot of time to install all those patches. This will be helpful."