Microsoft Offers Pre-RC1 Vista Beta

Despite initially saying it wouldn't be made public, Microsoft late Monday released Windows Vista Build 5536 for download by those who had signed up for the Beta 2 Customer Preview Program. The catch: only 100,000 visitors will be able to download before the links are deactivated.

5536 is a pre-RC1 build, which was released last week and received rave reviews from even Vista's harshest critics. The decision to offer public downloads was seemingly made in order to test the infrastructure before RC1 makes its official public debut. After being unable to handle the demand for Vista Beta 2, Microsoft has tapped Akamai to host the first release candidate.

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