Putting The Finishing Touches On Vista

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Microsoft plans to release Windows Vista Beta 2 in two phases: one for businesses in the first quarter and one for consumers in the second quarter. CRN Senior Writer Paula Rooney and Industry Editor Barbara Darrow spoke with Jim Allchin, Microsoft's Co-President of the Platform Products and Services Division, about that strategy.

CRN: So Vista Beta 2 will be released in two Community Technology Previews (CTPs)?

ALLCHIN: We&'ll produce one this quarter and one next quarter. We&'re targeting each CTP at a particular audience. The one coming up this quarter will be targeted toward our corporate accounts.

CRN: How widely will it be deployed?

ALLCHIN: We&'re asking our TAP customers to deploy [it] to hundreds of PCs inside each of their companies—there will be thousands and thousands of versions out there. The one we do next quarter will be much broader and targeted more for consumers. That level of distribution [will be] a million, maybe 2 million. The last of these [will be] the last Beta 2, and we won&'t do RC0. We&'ll move from there right to RC1. We wanted to get code completed a little earlier, and we did that, and between now and RTM we&'re doing nothing but listening to usability feedback, improving performance and quality.

CRN: So Vista is feature-complete now?

ALLCHIN: Yes. We&'ll have all the features in, but we have a lot of work to do.

CRN: Microsoft [previously] said it would have broad Beta 2 testing in the first quarter, but now that won&'t come until the second quarter. Does this signal a delay of sorts?

ALLCHIN: Thousands and thousands will get this one—500,000 will get it—so it all depends on what you think broad is.

CRN: Why not let everyone test it now?

ALLCHIN: First, we can only focus on quality and feedback on [certain] parts of the system at one time. The biggest lead item for business is not usability of the top-level UI. It&'s got to be about ease of deployment. Second, I don&'t believe the quality now is enough for us to go broad in 1 million-plus copies.

CRN: What are the major new features?

ALLCHIN: I see the big things as security, user experience, mobility and Internet.

CRN: How&'s Vista&'s security?

ALLCHIN: I&'m not going to claim perfection … but I think we&'re unrivaled in the work we&'ve done. I believe security will be a huge problem for the industry for years and years, but this will change the landscape in a fairly dramatic way.

CRN: What happens to Media Center Edition when Vista ships?

ALLCHIN: It goes away.

CRN: What other Internet improvements are there?

ALLCHIN: One area is native IPv6 and RSS facilities we added to the system [for] common storage. Office will use this, IE will use this, Sidebar will use this—we expect many apps to use this.

CRN: Is the Windows Collaboration peer-to-peer feature based on Groove Networks&' technology?

ALLCHIN: No. I think you&'ll see [the technology] come out in the Office brand.

CRN: Do you see Vista being as big for business as it could be for consumers?

ALLCHIN: Yes. We spent a lot of time on the business side of this system, in all the mobile activity we added. We&'ll save the IT organization money … because of the new imaging formats, diagnostics and remote system, and the events systems.

CRN: What about the fact that all bits will be shipping with each version of Vista?

ALLCHIN: We haven&'t explained the whole plan.

It&'s more complicated than shipping all bits. Stay tuned.

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