On Tuesday morning, Microsoft announced the imminent availability of Windows Vista Beta 2, build 5384 of the oft-delayed OS. Beta 2 will go out to beta testers, MSDN and TechNet subscribers, and Technology Adoption Program (TAP) customers sometime this week. Microsoft will make this release available to the public in the coming weeks through a preview program aimed at IT administrators, developers, and technology enthusiasts.

"I believe so much in this product," Microsoft Co-President Jim Allchin said Monday at a reviewer's event in Seattle. Allchin also listed the Vista features he believes will draw the most enthusiasm from users: safety and security, integrated search, advanced mobility, and new Internet and networking capabilities.

But the real reason Vista is such a big deal, Allchin said, is that the OS is the first since Windows 95 that will hit all three of Microsoft's core markets--businesses, consumers, and developers. "Windows Vista has something for every audience," he said. "We improved the system in so many different ways."

Allchin also highlighted that Vista is finally back on track. "We're in the mode now where we're finishing it. We know the path to release. We're familiar with this process. We've done it before."

I'm told that Microsoft will also announce the availability of Windows Server "Longhorn" Beta 2 and Office 2007 Beta 2 Tuesday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2006. The first parts of my Windows Vista Beta 2 and Office 2007 Beta 2 reviews are now available on the SuperSite for Windows.

http://www.winsupersite.com