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Microsoft Completes Work on Vista

Windows Vista gold code now released to manufacturing.

(Seattle) Microsoft Corp. said it has completed work on its long-delayed Windows Vista operating system and plans to release it to consumers Jan. 30.

The announcement means Microsoft is on track to meet its revised release schedule.

Jim Allchin, co-president of the Microsoft division that includes Windows, said in a conference call that Windows Vista's code was released to begin manufacturing copies early Wednesday.

"This is a good day," Allchin said.

Microsoft had previously said it would release Vista to big business clients at an event at the Nasdaq Stock Market on Nov. 30, and make it available to consumers sometime in January.

The release will be the first major upgrade in more than five years to the operating system that powers most of the world's personal computers. Vista boasts improved graphics, more effective tools for finding documents, pictures and other items on personal computers, and a new Internet browser, among other changes.

The system has been plagued by a series of delays, the most recent of which was blamed in part on efforts to improve security.

In its quest to get Vista out the door, Microsoft also has had to scale back some of its original goals, including scrapping a more sophisticated method for sorting and organizing data. Analysts have said that scaling back the system could hurt the company if people don't see enough of a reason to upgrade.

The most recent delays also forced Microsoft to miss the holiday season, potentially dealing a blow to computer makers and retailers who may have been hoping for the new system to boost gift sales.

Microsoft and computer manufacturers are offering holiday shoppers coupons good for a free or discounted Vista upgrade.

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