Microsoft taking beta requests for next Vista update

It will upgrade the Windows Media Center functionality in the operating system

Microsoft Tuesday began taking beta-tester applications for the next update to Windows, an upgrade to the Windows Media Center functionality within Vista.

Dubbed "Fiji" by some, it will not be a separate operating system, a la Windows Vista, but instead an update atop Vista, according to messages posted at "Green Button" a site dedicated to Media Center.

Jessica Zahn, a program manager on the Media Center team, opened the beta-tester selection by pointing users to a link on Microsoft's Connect site. Potential testers must complete an online survey, submit it to Microsoft and then wait until May 31, when the pool will be picked.

"The survey is deliberately broad," wrote Zahn. "It would probably be a mistake to assume everything we're asking about is going to end up in the next version, whenever that is. :-)" The survey included questions about users' habits in listening to digital music, manipulating photos, and watching live television on the PC screen.

"Is this next release going to be an update to what is in Vista now (i.e. service pack) or is this for the next version of Windows?" asked a user identified as ryan.tollefson. Chris Lanier, forum moderator, replied: "It's Vista-based, not a 'new' OS."

"We only have so many spots, and we need a diverse group of testers from across the U.S. and from supported countries," said Zahn. "You'll only be contacted if you're chosen, and we will choose people by May 31."

Zahn did not clue in testers to a release date for the Media Center update, or whether it will precede or succeed Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), a roll-up of fixes Microsoft has confirmed but not yet set a release date for.

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Gregg Keizer

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