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Microsoft Overcomes Final Vista Hurdles, Heads to RTM

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  • Microsoft Overcomes Final Vista Hurdles, Heads to RTM

    A week and a half ago, online reports about an internal countdown clock at Microsoft verified my early 2006 report that the software giant was pushing for an October 25 Windows Vista RTM (release to manufacturing). But last week, Microsoft co-president Jim Allchin admitted that the company had run into a snag and Microsoft wouldn't hit its long-planned RTM date. As of today, however, Microsoft is back on track. Here's what's happening.

    In an interview with Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet last week, Mr. Allchin said that Microsoft wouldn't be able to RTM Vista by this week. "We are in pretty good shape," he told Foley. "And there are still months before (the January 2007) launch."

    Allchin was alluding to an internal timetable that I previously reported on in WinInfo: He had previously told the Windows Division that Microsoft could afford to postpone Vista's RTM as late as November 8 and still meet its November and January launch requirements. However, each delay comes with a price, he said: For each day past October 25, Microsoft will ship one fewer localized, language-specific version of Vista for the January launch.

    I've found out that the source of Mr. Allchin's concerns was an unexpectedly buggy pre-RTM build of Windows Vista that surprised the company. The previous Friday, Microsoft pushed Windows Vista build 5824 into escrow, hoping that this build could qualify as the final shipping version. But a catastrophic problem with the build destroyed any systems that upgraded from Windows XP, requiring complete reinstalls. After a frantic several days of trying to find the bug, Microsoft finally fixed the problem last Friday and reset escrow. Microsoft on Friday internally released build 5840, which did not include the problem. Testing over the weekend produced positive feedback.

    Windows Vista build 5840 includes a surprising number of brand new and final icons, and a new set of final wallpapers, including a new default wallpaper that is a variation of the Aurora "swoosh" that Microsoft has been using as a Vista identifier since it announced the branding in July 2005. There are no major functional changes.

    Oh, and that internal countdown clock? Last week, it was reset to countdown to November 8, and not October 25. It's not clear, however, whether Microsoft will be able to RTM Vista before the later date, and which, if any, language-specific versions of Vista will be dropped.

    Microsoft Beta Team

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