It's Time: Windows Vista Goes Gold

"It's time!" And with that simple blog post, Windows head Jim Allchin has heralded the arrival of Windows Vista. Microsoft said Wednesday that it has released the next-generation operating system to manufacturing, capping a more than five-year development effort.

Volume license customers will get their hands on the final release -- build number 6000 -- this month, while the public launch of Vista is scheduled for January 30, 2007. The release to manufacturing of Vista will allow PC and device makers as well as developers finalize work on hardware and software in preparation for its formal debut.

The release of Vista will initially come in five languages including French, Spanish and Japanese that have already received final approval. The English version was signed off Wednesday morning, Jim Allchin said in an afternoon conference call.

"Windows Vista is built to be our most reliable operating system yet," release manager and director of program management Sven Hallauer said. "We used new development methodologies that helped us build more secure and reliable software."

Hallauer credited the Internet with allowing Microsoft to expand its tester base much further than it could previously, allowing for a more stable release.

Microsoft also thanked beta testers for helping push Vista out the door. "You gave us unprecedented support in testing and providing your feedback while we designed, developed and refined Windows Vista -- so much so that it has in many ways become a reflection of your involvement," Vista product manager Nick White said.

The path to RTM was sometimes rocky for the Redmond company. The first beta of Vista arrived last July, however numerous bugs slowed the development process. The next beta wouldn't come until 11 months later at the company's WinHEC hardware developer conference.

Shortly after WinHEC, Microsoft acknowledged that it had gone off track and recommitted to pushing Windows out the door by the end of the year. This would result in the release of RC1 in September followed by RC2 a month later.

An event has been scheduled for November 30 to signify the business launch of both Office 2007 and Vista, including an event in New York City featuring Steve Ballmer. Similar events are likely to be held around the time of the consumer launch.

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