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Is Vista Rollout Gala Set for Early October?

Microsoft is calling "speculation" a report that the company will have its highly anticipated grand gala to roll out Windows Vista in the first week of October.

The reports surfaced earlier this week on TG Daily, the news portion of Tom's Guides online publications, best known for Tom's Hardware Guide.

Vista is scheduled to be released to manufacturing (RTM) the week of Aug. 14, "sources" told TG Daily. While it wasn't entirely clear who those sources were, the article hints that the leaks came from Microsoft partners who need to prepare their own products for the launch and, thus, they've been given that information early.

According to TG Daily, Vista is now entering the final stages of beta testing. In fact, the company just last week began the enterprise Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Vista.

Last week, officials said there will be a broad public CTP next quarter -- which begins April 1 -- prior to the first release candidate. Since Microsoft is declining to answer questions regarding the TG Daily article, however, there is no way to reconcile differences in public and private accounts of timetables designed to meet anticipated ship dates.

The biggest difference: According to sources, the roadmap they were given set the first "release candidate," known as RC0, as due the week of April 10, with the second release candidate, RC1, targeted for the week of June 26.

That gives the Redmondians just eight weeks from the release of the second RC to RTM, with the final rollout event just seven weeks later. That doesn't leave much of a buffer zone should a last minute "show stopper" bug emerge late in the testing process. Officials have claimed, however, that this is the earliest in a Windows development and test cycle that the company has delivered "feature-complete" code. That, they assert, should provide for more thorough testing of the code by release.

A Microsoft spokesperson called the reports merely speculation and repeated the company's mantra that Vista is still on schedule to ship in the second half of the year. "We will be quality-guided," not driven by a schedule, she added, which is consistent with previous statements the company has made about timing.

TG Daily also reported -- slightly confusing Vista and Longhorn -- that the "server variant of Vista" (Longhorn) will reach RC0 and RC1 in the second half of this year with RTM in the first quarter of 2007. A third and final service pack (SP3) for Windows XP is due in December, TG Daily said.

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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