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Thursday, June 08, 2006
Microsoft Releases Public Download of Vista

After months of limited testing available to developers, Microsoft late Wednesday made a beta version of Windows Vista publicly available for download.

Through its "Customer Preview Program," Micosoft provides broadest access to the pre-release test versions of Windows Vista for a testing period in which the software maker hopes millions of tech enthusiasts will kick the tires on the new operating system.

Microsoft is aiming to wrap up testing and development of Vista later this year in hopes of a broad launch in January. The company released Beta 2 last month to a more limited group of testers and had promised the broader test would come shortly.

Vista is available for testing in English, German and Japanese versions, in both 64bit 32bit versions. People can either download the software from Microsoft's Web site or pay a small fee to get it on DVD. The download file is offered as an iso image, sized at 4.4GB and 3.5GB for the 64bit and the 32bit, respectively. Once downloaded Microsoft recommends that users burn the data onto a DVD. To obtain the CD Key a Windows Live ID is required, with the aid of which one has to log in on a Microsoft website that precedes the download page proper. An e-mail with the Key is subsequently sent.

The minimum hardware requirements for the current beta version of Vista include an SVGA display, 20GB of free HD space, a DVD-ROM drive, a 32bit/64bit CPU and 512MB of memory.

Although Microsoft is looking for millions of testers, it has said it may cap the test program at some point.

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