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Next Windows Vista CTP Coming in December

After just two releases, Microsoft is trading in its monthly schedule of Windows Vista community technology previews (CTPs) for a new, less predictable schedule of milestone-based CTPs.

Company officials presented the change to press and analysts this week as a way to ensure higher quality and get more features to end users sooner. The officials said the commercial release of Windows Vista remains on track for the second half of 2006.

Quality goals in the code, not a timetable, will now drive the CTP process, according to Microsoft. That means no CTP in November after Microsoft did have CTP releases in September and October.

On Wednesday, Microsoft did promise a CTP release of Windows Vista in December before the holidays that will include more features than the October release. Longer term, officials say, it will mean that the CTP testers will get to work much earlier with CTP versions that are closer to the final product in terms of features.

“We are accelerating our development to get most features code complete by the end of December, and all features integrated into the product early next year,” Amitabh Srivastava, corporate vice president of Windows core operating system development said.

However, officials shied away from providing any guidance as to when precisely Beta 2 will be available to testers, other than to say they would have more to announce early next year – making it harder for beta testers to plan when they will have the next beta in their hands. Beta 1 was released in late July. (See, “Windows Vista Beta Begins,” July 28, 2005.)

The changes raised the eyebrows of at least one analyst. “Is Microsoft making faster progress on Windows Vista or did executives attempt to pull off a nifty PR [sleight] of hand?” analyst Joe Wilcox of JupiterResearch wondered on his blog.

“Microsoft needs to put forth the face of reliability and consistency [and] redefining the CTP program, after just two months of releases, isn't the best way to instill customer confidence,” Wilcox said, adding “Consistency means something. Doing what you say you're going to do means something, too. Just ask customers, particularly large businesses.”

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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