As promised, Microsoft shipped Windows Vista (codenamed Longhorn) Beta 1 today at 12:00pm EST, setting the stage for the first widespread beta test of the company's next generation operating system. Aimed at IT professionals and developers, Windows Vista Beta 1 delivers the core features Microsoft has promised for years, but not many of the end user niceties that will appear in later builds.

"The focus of Windows Vista Beta 1 is the fundamentals -- security, deployment, manageability, reliability and diagnostics," a Microsoft representative told me today. "While the code also includes an early look at the new user-interface design, the majority of end-user features in Windows Vista will not be included until Beta 2. In addition to these fundamentals, Windows Vista Beta 1 also includes the Internet Explorer 7 Beta 1 built into the platform. The technical Beta of Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP SP2 also is available today."

The big news, of course, regards when testers will be receiving access to Beta 1. Microsoft recently invited the first round of private testers into the Windows Vista beta, and many have emailed me, wondering when they'll get download access. Microsoft told me that technical beta testers, MSDN subscribers, and TechNet subscribers would all get access to Beta 1 starting today.

With Windows Vista Beta 1 now available to testers, I'm free to publish my exhaustive Beta 1 review and other accompanying articles. Later today, I'll publish that review and several screenshot galleries to the SuperSite for Windows. Tomorrow, Friday, and beyond, I'll add to that with several more technology showcases that highlight key features in Beta 1, including Internet Explorer (IE) 7 Beta 1, the new User Access Protection (UAP) security architecture, and much more. Stay tuned. It's going to be a busy week on the SuperSite.
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