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Microsoft Hints At Dec. 1 For Windows Vista Launch

Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Vista launch date contest for developers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa indicates that the next-generation operating system could be set for release Dec. 1.

The contest, which requires registration to play, lets people choose dates and then follows up the choice with a short video before the user has to confirm the selection.

Choosing Nov. 30 gets a comic response from a character in the video that the date is too soon. Dec. 1, however, gets the response that the date is too late.

Microsoft on Wednesday would not confirm the release date for Vista, and said the "Guess the Date" contest was a way to encourage EMEA developers to register and participate in Windows Vista beta testing.

"We expect Windows Vista to be broadly available in all channels – as retail, full-packaged product and on new PCs – in the second half of 2006," the company said in a statement sent by email.

In his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev., last month, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told attendees that Vista would ship this year, but didn't specify a date. The OS beta has been in the field since December, with developers logging experiences, questions and complaints to a special series of forums and newsgroups set up by Microsoft.

Microsoft plans to release Windows Vista Beta 2 for businesses this quarter, and for consumers in the second quarter. Security is among the key enhancements in the new version.

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