After five years of course changes, false starts and a host of beta and CTP (Community Technology Preview) builds, Microsoft is set to deliver a broad-scale build of Vista to two million testers.
Microsoft is likely to drop the build—known by multiple names, including the consumer Vista CTP and Vista Beta 2—as early as the week of May 22 at the WinHEC in Seattle, according to company watchers.
(Around the same time, Microsoft also is likely to release Office 2007 Beta 2, the next major milestone of Microsofts next-generation desktop suite, as well as Beta 2 of Longhorn Server.)
While the exact Vista release date is fluid, the facts are not—this cut of Vista needs to be more solid than a years worth of previous builds from Microsoft.
Even the most recent Vista builds, including two interim CTPs delivered during the past couple of months to the companys squad of elite beta testers, known as TAP (Technology Adoption Program) partners, have suffered from a variety of performance and compatibility problems, according to interviews with eight testers.
"Theres too much variation in performance from one build to another," said Brandon LeBlanc, based in Portland, Ore., a Vista tester and contributor to a number of Windows community sites, including MSTechToday, LonghornBlogs and LiveSide.Net. "The changes they are continuing to make at this stage disrupt performance too much. Youd imagine they would have gotten past this stage by Beta 2."
"Here is what any team has to get absolutely right in order to call a build Beta 2: the build has to be solid enough that testers can run it do perform their day-to-day work," said Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, based in Kirkland, Wash. "If the software is not stable enough to run in day-to-day use then it will delay testing, which delays testers finding bugs."