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Microsoft-Watch has just posted a really interesting story concerning the remainder of the Windows Vista beta phase. According to Microsoft's own Jim Allchin, the software giant will not be releasing any one build labeled as the definitive Vista Beta 2. Instead the company is going to rely on additional CTP builds of the next-generation operating system to receive fresh feedback from the enthusiast and beta community.

Allchin went onto explain exactly how the remainder of the Vista Beta program will take place. Build 5270 or the 'December CTP' was described as a "partner" beta of Vista being directed at the testing community in general. The next major CTP release slated for the first quarter of 2006 will be directed at enterprise, or "TAP" beta participants. Allchin commented that this build will include the ability to install on top of an existing Windows XP installation and may or may not include the much anticipated Windows Sidebar for users to play with. A third build labeled as "Beta 2" (much like 5270 was and the upcoming Q1 'TAP' build), will be released around April of this year and will be labeled as a major 'CPP' or "Customer Preview Program" release. "Customers do need significant milestones," Allchin said. "But you could classify CTPs as betas, but for a different audience."

Other interesting information contained in the article includes:
  • No traditional "Release Candidate" builds of Vista
  • Vista stamped media will not contain all the different product 'bits' or versions as previously reported
  • Introduction of a "Windows Anytime Upgrade" program allowing customers to change Vista SKU's easily
  • Two more 'traditional' beta releases for VistaServer , including a new Beta 3 release in Q3 (More CTP builds as well)
  • Vista is now "feature-complete' and some features might even be cut if stability/performance milestones cannot be achieved
This is a dramatic shift in the way Microsoft will run the remainder of the Vista Beta program. It will be interesting to see if this new policy of directed CTP builds will result in an improved final product, or end up being the Achilles heel for this much anticipated operating system from Microsoft.

Paul Thurrott has also posted a lenghty interview with Jim Allchin which signifigantly clarifies the remainder of this beta program. Allchin reveals to Thurrott that Microsoft will be cutting back on the idea of 'Virtual Folders', and that the planned April CTP could be thought of as the major public preview.

View: Microsoft-Watch Article | Winsupersite Interview with Jim Allchin
View: Neowin Forum Discussion

Source: Neowin
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