Microsoft expands Vista OS testing to five million users

Software giant releases RC1 version, retail pricing

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By  Published  September 15, 2006

Microsoft is broadening testing for its upcoming Windows Vista operating system(OS) to more than five million people worldwide, the firm said this month. The company has also announced retail pricing for the US versions of the OS,which is due for mass shipping this year.

The software giant this month said that Release Candidate 1 (RC1) of Vista, a near-final version of the OS, is now available.

Outgoing Windows boss Jim Allchin said in an e-mail released to testers and posted on a blog that while there “are a lot of improvements since beta 2” the OS was not finished.

“We’ll keep plugging away on application compatibility, as well as fit and finish,” Allchin said. However, Microsoft is encouraging software makers to use the RC1 release to certify their applications.

While Windows Vista RC1 was initially only made available to a small group of technical customers on September 1, Microsoft plans to more broadly release it, executives said this month. The Windows Vista Customer Preview Program (CPP) will be opened eventually to more than 5 million customers worldwide.

Microsoft wants to complete customer testing for Vista as quickly as possible, so that it can hit its deadline of shipping the OS to large companies in November and hold the mainstream launch in January next year, executives said.

The firm also announced details of US retail pricing. For the full retail versions of the software prices are as high as US$399 for Windows Vista Ultimate; through to Windows Vista Business, US$299; Windows Vista Home Premium, US$239; and Windows Vista Home Basic, US$199.

Upgrades from Windows XP are priced at Windows Vista Ultimate, US$259; Windows Vista Business, US$199; Windows Vista Home Premium, US$159; and Windows Vista Home Basic, US$99.

Last month, Microsoft Middle East said it was in talks with its regional hardware partners about the possibility of rolling out a mooted Vista upgrade scheme. The scheme looks likely to offer buyers of Windows XP-based systems a free upgrade coupon, which will entitle them to upgrade to the forthcoming Vista OS.

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