Microsoft implores testers to jump on RC1

Microsoft is counting on its beta testers being "aggressive" upon the shipment of Release Candidate 1 of Windows Vista in order for the software giant to make its ship dates, according to the executive overseeing the entire Vista project.

Sven Hallauer, director of release management for Windows Vista, says the product team of 5,000 engineers is working upwards of 70-hour weeks on Vista RC1 as it heads for shipment.

RC1 is expected to ship early next month. A release candidate is code deemed good enough to ship but is put through a final round of testing.

Hallauer said during a Podcast posted on the Windows Vista team blog (http://blogs.technet.com/windowsvista/archive/2006/08/29/452652.aspx), that it is imperative that testers get to work immediately when RC1 is released and dedicate as much time as possible to testing and providing feedback back to Microsoft so it can meet its internal release dates. The company says Vista will ship in November.

"As soon as the build is out, download it, install it, test it, and file bugs," says Hallauer. "Time is of the essence. We have a feedback window of 2 to 3 weeks after RC1 release where we can really make changes to the product in terms of getting deeper into the product's code base. Thereafter, we become very, very constrained in terms of what we can change without resetting the clock and slipping the release."

The release of Vista has slipped so many times critics have stopped counting. But given past timeframes for product development, if Microsoft can get sufficient feedback in 2 to 3 weeks after RC1 ships they would have another couple of weeks to finalize release-to-manufacturing (RTM) code and have the product ready for corporate users by the end of November.

"It is really, really important from a community perspective that everyone that is part of the Vista beta is really, really aggressive around the RC1 milestone release to go test as soon as possible, as many hours as possible," says Hallauer.

"It is super critical that we ship this [RC1] on time so we have the feedback for RTM. We have some fairly fixed time lines around RTM because of the commitments we have made around this product." Hallauer says RC1 feedback will tell Microsoft how close to complete the code really is.

In addition, he said in the last 5-6 weeks Microsoft has forked the code into two different builds.

There are build numbers ranging from 5400 through 5699, as well as, builds beginning with 57XX that represent RTM code, according to the Vista team blog. The fork means the company is working on RC1 and RTM in parallel, which is how development is done around each milestone in the project, Hallauer says..

Hallauer's Podcast comes at a time when rumors about the timing of RC1's release and leaked information about Vista pricing is dominating headlines about the oft-delayed operating system.

Yesterday, Amazon.com posted not only pricing for Vista, but also a note that said the product would be available to consumers on Jan. 30, 2007. The online retailer also posted the same note about Microsoft Office, tipping the scale that perhaps Vista is on time and will ship in conjunction with Office, a scenario Microsoft has been planning for some time.

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