Vista Test Code To Be Feature-Complete By Year's End

Microsoft executives Tuesday said its engineering team will have all the planned features in the beta code by the end of December but could not say when the feature-complete beta 2 code will be handed over to customers and partners.

Windows Vista Beta 1 was released in July. At that time, Microsoft said a developer's release would be made available at its Professional Developer's Conference, or PDC, in September and Beta 2 would be available in early 2006.

The test release of Vista aimed at developers, which Microsoft dubbed a Community Technology Preview, was announced at PDC.

During its informal briefing this week, Microsoft declined to specify an exact release date for Beta 2 and would only say that it would announce the next milestone sometime early next year.

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The software giant released monthly Community Technology Previews of Windows Vista to developers and partners in September and October. Each new build contained new features for testing.

Microsoft said it will not release its current build -- called the Internal Developer Workstation (IDW) build -- as a CTP in November. Instead, the next CTP will be available in December before the holidays, the Microsoft executives said.

Microsoft said the feature-complete code will be handed over to customers much earlier in the Vista development process than in past beta test cycles of the Windows client. But they did not say whether or not the feature-complete version will include all of the features originally planned for Windows Vista, the first major upgrade since Windows XP shipped in 2001.

Sources said, for example, that Microsoft is mulling cutting more planned features out of Vista to reach the 2006 ship date. In August of 2004, Microsoft announced that it would cut its planned WinFS file system out of the next Windows client, then code-named Longhorn.

"We don't think MS can ship a quality release of Vista on time with the current feature set [planned]," said one source close to Microsoft. "We hear they're polling customers to see how they feel about pulling certain features out, or delaying certain editions of Vista."