On Friday afternoon, March 24, Microsoft will release a new test build of Vista to its TAP (Technology Adoption Partner) elite tester pool, as well as to TechBeta testers, Microsoft officials confirmed.
The company will not make the new 5342 build available to a wider audience, however.
"The code is currently going through the final stages of testing and will be published to http://connect.microsoft.com for access by TAP customers, when testing is complete," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
Microsoft is characterizing the newly minted build as an EDW, or External Developer Workstation, build.
Microsoft releases these builds —which are typically rougher and less thoroughly tested than CTP (Community Technology Preview) test builds—to a smaller, selected set of testers on a regular basis.
The next wide-scale test build of Vista, originally christened the "April CTP" or the "Consumer CTP," is now expected by testers to arrive in May. Microsoft officials have said they expect to make that build available to in excess of 2 million testers.
Microsoft isnt providing a firm date for that CTP, other than to say it will arrive sometime in the second calendar quarter of 2006.
Microsoft officials said there are "no major feature updates or changes" in the March 24 build, when compared to the Vista February CTP code. "This EDW code is being distributed to the select group of customers to provide self-hosters with slight updates and the fix and finish work they have requested," the company said.