Vista Breathes Sigh of Release

Microsoft sets final code free to manufacturing

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 Nov. 8.

The Vista engineering team had signed off on the final code earlier that morning, Allchin said, adding that "this is an incredible, happy day; its exciting for us. Vista is rock-solid, and we are ready to ship.

"The RTM [release to manufacturing] signifies the next phase for Windows Vista," said Allchin in Redmond, Wash. "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."

Vista brings a number of firsts with it: the first time that a broad array of customer SKUs, all targeted at different segments, will be available on a single DVD image, which Allchin called a "significant accomplishment." This is also the first time Microsoft has been able to release five languages simultaneously at RTM, two more than it has been able to do before.

"The product will be available in 18 languages by the January release time," Allchin said. "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."

Vista supports more hardware than any other version of Windows, with hundreds of OEMs and thousands of system-builder partners ready to install it. Microsoft expects about 50 percent more device driver coverage at RTM than Windows XP had, with thousands more drivers coming through Windows Update.

Regarding performance, Vista has a number of new technologies, from SuperFetch to ReadyBoost to ReadyDrive—innovations that the company claims will keep users machines performing well over time.

Vistas focus on power management and "sleep" optimization not only saves power and money but also gives users the quick "on" and "off" experience they have been wanting, Allchin said.

Allchin also said Vista is the most reliable system Microsoft has ever shipped, having undergone more testing than any other product released by the company. There have been some 16 technical previews since Beta 1, with millions of downloads of prerelease versions of the product. In addition, more than 60,000 machines inside Microsoft are running Vista, a greater number than for any previous Windows RTM period.

"Comparing Vista to Windows XP SP2 [Service Pack 2] 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 came into play to help ensure potential threats were addressed before the code even went into the product, Allchin said.

While XP SP2 was an advance in security and a release that Allchin said he was proud of, there were things Microsoft could not do with XP SP2—such as the new defense against buffer overrun exploits, called address space layout randomization, which is now in Vista.

Allchin also reconfirmed that he will be leaving Microsoft at the end of January, when 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.

On the issues of hardware and application compatibility, Allchin said 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 partners have about 10 weeks to do this.

Microsoft also expects that business customers will jointly deploy the Office 2007 system, Exchange 2007 and the enterprise version of Vista, which will give the customers "dramatic" improvements in security, manageability, reliability and productivity, Allchin said.