The code for Windows Vista has finally been released to manufacturing, Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsofts platforms and services division, announced in a media teleconference on Nov. 8.
The team had signed off on the final code at around 10 a.m. PST on Nov. 8, Allchin said, adding that “this is an incredible, happy day; its exciting for us. Vista is rock solid and we are ready to ship. This is a significant milestone for Microsoft and our partners.”
“The RTM [release to manufacturing] signifies the next phase for Windows Vista. Our development work is done and now the progress begins for the PC and device manufacturers and software developers to finalize the work on their products and applications,” he said.
While Microsoft has made some big claims about Vista, Allchin said he truly believes the company would deliver them.
Vista also brings a number of firsts with it: the first time that a broad array of customer SKUs, all targeted at different customer segments, will be available on a single DVD image, which is a “significant accomplishment,” Allchin claimed.
This is also the first time that Microsoft has been able to release five languages simultaneously at RTM time, two more than it has been able to do before.
“The French, Spanish and Japanese versions were, in fact, signed off before English, which is another first,” Allchin said.
“The product will be available in 18 languages by the January release time. We will ship 36 languages within 100 days of the U.S. English RTM, and when we are done we will have basically 100 languages, which is an amazing accomplishment.”
Windows Vista supports more hardware than any other version, with hundreds of OEMs and thousands of system builder partners who will all install Vista. Microsoft expects about 50 percent more device driver coverage at RTM than Windows XP had, with thousands more coming through Windows Update.
“So, big claims and I think we are delivering on them,” Allchin said, adding that, from a quality perspective, Microsoft thinks about the product in three different categories: performance, reliability and security.
With regard to performance, Vista has a number of new technologies, from SuperFetch to ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive, innovations that the company claims will keep peoples machines performing well over time, with their systems continuing to run better.
The focus on power management and “sleep” optimizations not only save power and money, but give users the quick “on” and “off” experience they have been wanting for years, Allchin said.
There was also “no question” that Vista was the most reliable system Microsoft had ever shipped, having undergone more testing than any product or operating system ever shipped by the company, he said.
There have been some 16 technical previews since beta one, with millions of downloads of the pre-release versions of the product. There are also more than 60,000 machines inside Microsoft running Vista, which was more than at any other Windows RTM time.
Vista Customers Will Be
“Comparing Vista to Windows XP SP2, with hard metrics, there is just no question that Vista is substantially more reliable,” Allchin said.
On the security front, Vista is the first operating system to really go through the Microsoft secure development life-cycle, from the start, which means a number of rules and procedures to help ensure potential threats were addressed before the code even went into the product, he said.
“I have incredible confidence in the quality of this operating system because of the immense effort we have put into the engineering process, because of our automated tools, which scan for defects, and the time we spent on improving the underlying architecture, and the way in which we have addressed security. Customers will be safer when running Windows Vista,” Allchin said.
While Windows XP SP2 was an advance in security and a release that Allchin said he was very proud of, there were things that Microsoft could not do with XP SP2, like the new defense against buffer overrun exploits called address space layout randomization, which is now in Vista.
Injecting a more personal note, Allchin said that his seven-year old son is running Vista on his machine, which is not running an anti-virus program as it is locked down with parental controls.
“I am feeling totally confident about that, which is quite a statement. I couldnt say that with Windows XP SP2. I also want to say that I am not advocating people not run anti-virus software, but my sons computer does not have it as it is extremely locked down and he is not using e-mail,” he said.
Allchin also reconfirmed that he will be leaving the software giant at the end of January, at which time he will be replaced by Steve Sinofsky, who has headed the Office team until now, and who will then lead the Windows and Windows Live groups, with broad responsibility for planning future versions of Windows.
Allchin said he is “incredibly proud” of all the Windows team has achieved and hoped that it will be remembered for the progress made in terms of quality and security.
On the issues of hardware and application compatibility, Allchin said that Microsoft has worked with its partners throughout the development process and has tested thousands of applications internally.
But now the ecosystem around the software is going to kick into high gear and complete the rest of the work around compatibility, he said, noting that they have about 10 weeks to do this.
“I can say, without any question, that when Windows Vista debuts in January, it will run more applications and hardware out-of-the-box than Windows XP or 2000 did when they debuted. This includes hundreds of the most used applications and tens of thousands of device drivers,” Allchin said.
Microsoft also expects that business customers will jointly deploy Office 2007 system, Exchange 2007 and the enterprise version of Vista, which will give them “dramatic” improvements in security, manageability, reliability and productivity, he said.