On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that it had shipped Go-Live versions of key Windows technologies to be included in Windows Vista and made available separately for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 users. The Go-Live milestone indicates that the company will support third-party production products and services that are based on these technologies. You can download free Go-Live versions of Windows Communication Foundation (WCF, formerly code-named Indigo), Windows Workflow Foundation (WF), and WinFX from the Microsoft Web site.

"Early adopters of WinFX have been asking for the ability to test WinFX server-based technologies in a real-world production environment," says Ari Bixhorn, the director of Web Services Strategy at Microsoft. "Today's announcement enables them to do exactly that. For customers, the Go-Live releases of WCF and WF signify the 'green light' for them to deploy applications before the final release of WinFX. These Go-Live releases also help drive the feedback loop between customers and Microsoft. This helps us ensure that the product we ultimately ship meets the stability, scalability, and reliability needs of our customers."

WinFX is a new .NET-based programming framework that developers will use to create Windows Vista applications. However, key parts of WinFX, including WCF, WF, and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF, formerly codenamed Avalon), are also being backported to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 to provide developers with a wider potential market. This week's release of Go-Live versions of WCF and WF means that developers can start deploying next-generation applications and services in live production environments for the first time.