Microsoft is posting to its private download Connect Web site on July 17 a new test build of Windows Vista.
Microsoft is making the latest build, No. 5472, available to a select group of technical beta testers only. Microsoft is opening up the new build to its Technology Adoption Program (TAP) members, Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers and other selected technical testers only.
The newest Vista build is not a full-fledged beta. It is one of the interim builds that Microsoft has committed to make available to testers on a monthly basis until Vista is released to manufacturing.
"Microsoft is distributing this in order to provide testers with a more recent build and to encourage application and device driver developers to accelerate development on Windows Vista," according to a statement provided by a company spokeswoman. "This build includes quality and performance improvements based on feedback Microsoft has received on Beta 2 to date."
The new build does not include any major changes to the Vista feature set or user interface, said Mike Burk, a Windows client product manager. It consists primarily of bug fixes; tweaks to the User Account Control functionality to make it "less chatty"; and stability/performance improvements, especially around Media Center, Burk said.
Burk said the primary reason Microsoft rolled out Build 5472 was to make available to a wider set of testers -- specifically, MSDN subscribers -- "something post-Beta 2." MSDN subscribers should be able to download the code by July 18 or 19, Burk said.
Microsoft released in May Beta 2 of Vista to two million testers in the form of a public beta. In June, the Vista team made an interim build, Number 5456, available to a select group of private testers. Many testers said they considered 5456 to be a vast improvement, in terms of performance and stability, over Beta 2.
Microsoft is promising it will release another public beta in the form of Release Candidate 1 (RC1) some time later in the third calendar quarter of this year. RC1 will be as broadly distributed as Beta 2 was, Burk said.
Microsoft is still committed to releasing Vista to manufacturing this fall, in order to allow volume licensees to obtain code by November.
Microsoft is still striving to launch Windows Vista and Office 2007 simultaneously some time in January 2007.
Microsoft officials said last week they believe Vista will be the most rapidly adopted operating system in Microsoft's history. They are predicting that more than 400 million PCs will come with Vista in the next two years.
Microsoft also released to selected testers a new .Net Framework 3.0 Community Technology Preview (CTP) software-development-kit test build on July 17. The .Net Framework 3.0 software development kit includes updates for native Win32 developers, including improvements to documentation and samples.
.Net Framework 3.0 is the new name for WinFX. It includes a new build of the .Net Framework, the Windows Communication Foundation, Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Workflow Foundation and CardSpace (InfoCard) digital-identity technologies.
(This story was updated on July 17 to include comments from Microsoft product manager Burk.)