Vista Code Finally Goes Gold

Microsoft announced it released Windows Vista to manufacturing on Wednesday, putting it on schedule to ship to volume customers by November 30, and confirmed that Vista will go to consumers on January 30, 2007.

The announcement was made on a conference call with media and analysts hosted by Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, who plans to retire after consumer availability of Vista in January.

"This is a good day," Allchin said. "Less than an hour ago we officially signed on off on Windows Vista. It is rock solid and we are ready to ship."

Release to manufacturing -- known in Microsoft terminology as RTM -- is the final step of the development process, ending in delivery of Vista to PC manufacturers, volume Windows customers and retail package manufacturers.

Some Vista firsts: This is the first time Microsoft will have a broad array of product SKUs (stock keeping units) on a single DVD image. Another, at RTM, the company was able to release Vista in five languages simultaneously. There will be a total of 18 languages by the time Vista launches for consumers in January. "We'll ship 32 languages within 100 days of the US English RTM [and] when we are done we'll have 100 languages," Allchin added.

As for Vista's readiness, Allchin was in rare form: "There is no question Vista is the most reliable system we have ever shipped . . . It has undergone more testing than any Microsoft operating system . . . We have done like 16 technical previews since Beta 1 [and] Just within Microsoft, there are 60,000 machines running Vista . . . more than any other version of Windows at RTM."

Although industry observers expect Vista sales to be massive due to the pent up demand after five years without a major Windows release, many corporate customers have traditionally waited until final code for a new Windows version to ship before they begin testing it. That normally delays actual deployment in enterprises from anywhere from six to 18 months after release. While Allchin told press and analysts that he expects Vista uptake will be "huge, fast and immediate" this time around, he also acknowledged that volume customers have important concerns.

To help lubricate that process, the company is also shipping the release candidate (RC) of the Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0 -- a tool meant to help corporate customers identify mission-critical applications that may have problems running under Vista.

"Before, we didn't have an application compatibility kit until nine months after [Windows XP's] release . . . this is available now," said Allchin. The RC of the Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0 is available for download here.

Vista won't be alone on the podium come the end of the month either. Microsoft's complementary new version of Office -- dubbed a little nonsensically 2007 Office – will also share the stage, as will Exchange 2007. Like Vista, 2007 Office will be available to volume customers at the end of the month, with consumer release on January 30, 2007.

About the Author

Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine. 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.