Vista Customer Preview Program Begins

Taking a page from Linux, Microsoft on Wednesday took the lid off its Vista Customer Preview Program, which could provide the company with millions of eager testers. Users are able to download a copy of Beta 2, released to a limited number of technical beta testers last month.

Excitement over the program was evident late Wednesday, with readers reporting to BetaNews that connections were frequently timing out as customers rushed to get the code.

"Microsoft today kicked off the Windows Vista Customer Preview Program (CPP), providing the broadest access yet to pre-release test versions of Windows Vista," Microsoft said in a statement.

Microsoft is cautioning the average user from downloading the beta bits, saying it is intended for tech professionals and developers, or those with a fair bit of computer experience. The company is also asking those who download Beta 2 to test its "Vista Ready" application, which ensures that a PC is prepared to run the new operating system.

Those wishing to test Vista have two options to obtain the code: by downloading it from the Microsoft Web site or requesting a copy on DVD. The DVD will cost $6.00 USD per disc, with the capability to order up to five discs, according to Microsoft.

(As a service to our readers, BetaNews has made available through FileForum access to both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. Links here are to the English language releases.)

Windows Vista is slated for an early 2007 launch, according to Microsoft. The company has not ruled out limiting the beta program at some point if it feels it has enough testers.

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