Microsoft Cancels November Vista CTP

Microsoft announced in a conference call on Tuesday that no Windows Vista CTP would be released for November, with the development focus shifting to a "quality based schedule, rather than a calendar date one." Instead, a December CTP will be issued before the Christmas holidays.

Amitabh Srivastava, who heads up Microsoft's Windows engineering efforts, explained that the company was endeavoring to finish the code for all Windows Vista features by the end of December, with a feature-complete build of Vista shipping "early next year."

Although Srivastava characterized the Vista development schedule as accelerated, he refused to comment on what the previous roadmap looked like. Officials would also not disclose what new features to expect in the December CTP build, but said many notable additions will have been made since the October CTP.

A November Windows Vista build, which is deemed IDW or Internal Developer Workstation, will only be available to TAP customers. "It hasn't gone through rigorous testing of a CTP build," Srivastava said.

Dodging the word "delay," Srivastava detailed a new engineering process employed for Vista in which Microsoft "developed tools to catch bugs early on in a really automated way." Because the system "verifies the quality of the code before it is integrated into the process," daily builds are of "good quality," he said.

But the "quality based schedule" marks a significant change from Microsoft's initial plans for Vista. At PDC 2005 in September, the company said it "will continue to release CTP builds on a monthly basis throughout the Windows Vista development process, and all feedback will be processed through the MSDN Product Feedback Center."

Neil Charney, director of Windows Product Management, reiterated Microsoft's commitment to the CTP program, despite backing away from monthly releases.

"One of the other things we found is that more communication is better than less for everyone," explained Charney. "We're looking to make these conference calls a standard part of the process."

Charney would not offer any hints as to when to expect Windows Vista Beta 2, only stating that more information would be shared as development progresses. "We're going to start communicating details of subsequent CTP releases in a format similar to this call," he said. "We will have more to share next year."

However, a late December CTP means Vista Beta 2 could arrive after the expected January timeframe.

Nonetheless, both Charney and Srivastava repeated that Windows Vista was still scheduled for general availability in the second half of 2006. The next Windows Server release, still code-named Longhorn, remains set for a 2007 debut.

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