Redmond (WA) - Windows Vista is officially out of the beta stage and Microsoft is preparing for the first mass testing of its new operating system. A total of five million RC1 copies will be made available through the company's customer preview program within the next days. Microsoft confirmed pricing and the release dates of the software.
It almost appears as if Microsoft wanted to apologize to its customers for the numerous delays and hiccups during the development of Windows Vista: Following a very limited availability of the Release Candidate 1 of the software to "technical customers" last Friday, the company today announced the broadest RC1 testing program in the history of Windows. Users can access Vista RC1 through a "reopened" customer preview program, which promises to make the software available to "more than five million customers worldwide."
According to Jim Allchin, co-president of the firm's platforms & services division, the RC1 was "done" last Friday. In a message posted on the Windows Vista Team blog, the executive wrote that the new version includes "a lot of improvements" over the Beta 2. "We've made some UI adjustments, added more device drivers, and enhanced performance," Allchin wrote. Until the release to manufacturing, the Vista developer team will "keep plugging away on application compatibility, as well as fit and finish."
While not finalized, Microsoft says that RC1 is the version ISV should use to certify their applications. Rumors about the launch date of the Internet are still spreading, but Microsoft said that it is on track to release the software to volume license customers in November 2006. General availability is unchanged as well and targeted for January 2007.
Earlier than expected and perhaps triggered by a leak on Amazon.com's website, Microsoft also confirmed the pricing of the extensive Windows Vista lineup. When available, customers will be able to choose between
- Vista Home Basic: $99.95 (upgrade); $199 (full)
- Vista Home Premium: $159 (upgrade); $239 (full)
- Vista Business: $199 (upgrade); $299 (full)
- Vista Enterprise: Not available for retail purchase
- Vista Ultimate: $259 (upgrade); $399 (full)
Windows Vista pricing represents a slight premium over the current Windows XP prices. The "Basic" version will provide the basic feature set of Vista, but will not include the AeroGlass interface. Users looking for the new dynamic user interface will have to spend at least $160 for the Premium Upgrade of the software. Vista Business, which is comparable to today's Windows XP Professional, lacks multimedia features of Premium, but integrates features such as the IIS web server, a remote desktop, P2P capability and support for up to 128 GB of memory.