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Monday, January 30, 2006
Vista Could Miss Shipping Target

Microsoft is changing its testing schedule for Windows Vista. The company tries to get the operating system update out for the 2006 holiday season, although quality issues could delay the shipping target.

Rather than have a formal test version labeled "Beta 2," the company is now aiming for a series of test releases this year. Each will be aimed at getting feedback from a specific audience, said Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft's platform products and services division,in an interview this week with CNET

An update to the current Community Technology Preview program (CTP), set for release sometime this quarter, will serve as the version that Microsoft wants corporations to test. Microsoft said in December that it was targeting February for the next CTP release.

Next quarter, the company will release a "customer preview program" (CPP) that will give early-adopter consumers a chance to get their hands on Vista, though Microsoft has not said how broad that program will be. Both forthcoming CTP and CPP releases will use "Beta 2" in describing the code, as did a December CTP.

Even with the changes to the test roster, Allchin admitted that there is a chance that Vista could miss its shipping target. He said that the company has gotten all the necessary features into Vista and that no major capabilities have been cut from recent test versions. But while those features are all present, they are not necessarily being tested in final form.

This is the first time that Microsoft goes to a timetable of more-frequent CTP releases. The idea is to get more feedback earlier in the process than what a schedule of only one or two beta releases can allow.

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