It’s Ready: Microsoft Ships Windows Vista RC1

Just one week after shipping a surprisingly stable full featured and bug free pre-Release Candidate 1 (RC1) version of Windows Vista. Microsoft released Vista RC1 to the public. And in the days and weeks ahead an astonishing number of people will be running this Vista version. Microsoft says it plans to deliver Vista RC1 to more than 6 million people.

In a briefing last week, Microsoft Group Product Manager, Chris Flores, told me that Vista RC1 is improved significantly over Vista Beta 2, the previous public milestone of the product. Vista RC1 is noticeably more stable performs better and includes new functionality such as Tag browsing in Windows Media Center, an Internet Explorer (IE) feature that prevents incompatible toolbars from loading vastly enhanced device coverage and numerous other improvements Microsoft says. Additionally, the controversial User Account Control (UAC) feature has been changed and is now less intrusive.

I've corroborated these claims in my own testing over the long weekend. With RC1, finally, Vista has reached the performance and fit and finish levels of Windows XP the OS. Vista is meant to replace Vista's software and hardware compatibility is dramatically better across the board, except for the 64 bit versions which suffer from software compatibility problems. Otherwise, Vista RC1 appears to include a few minor problems but no major showstoppers.

As impressive as the quality turnaround is, Microsoft's plans for Vista RC1 distribution are even more staggering. The company will ship the product to more than 20,000 beta testers, 500,000 Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet subscribers, 3 million Customer Preview Program (CPP) members and with more than 2 million print magazines. Vista RC1 will expire in May 2007, Microsoft says, and the company will support RC1 with critical updates and other patches through the final release of Vista which is still slated for late October p p Indeed with these release milestones Microsoft is again reiterating that it plans to meet its intended schedule for releasing Vista. The company will provide businesses with a volume licensed Vista version by the end of the year and ship various other product versions to retail stores and with new PCs by the end of January. Flores did note, however, that Microsoft isn't worried about delaying the product if needed.

"Obviously, if we find something serious between now and the release we'll look at delaying the release." he said. "Quality is the most important concern." 

I've already published many articles about Vista RC1 on the SuperSite for Windows, including the first two parts of my review, two articles about the best and worst features in this release and a screen shot gallery. More will be coming throughout the week so stay tuned!