After almost a month of rumors and unsubstantiated news
about how the Windows Vista development cycle was progressing and where it was
going, Microsoft recently released new information about the Windows Vista
development cycle and Beta 2. I thought that it would be good time to take a
more in-depth look at the 
Windows Vista development cycle.

The Community Technology Preview (CTP) program

Back in July of 2005, Microsoft released a copy of Windows
Vista clearly labeled Beta 1. Then they shifted gears a bit and began the
Community Technology Preview (CTP) program for Windows Vista. They said they
would be releasing monthly CTP builds in between the Beta builds and that Beta
2 would most likely be released at the end of year. And while we saw a
September CTP and an October CTP, there really wasn’t a November CTP. When the
December CTP was announced, people were disappointed thinking that Microsoft
had slipped behind schedule and that the December CTP was really what the
November CTP should have been and that Beta 2 would come in early 2006.

However, what Microsoft didn’t do was overtly let everyone
know that they really liked the CTP program style and had decided to merge the Windows
Vista Beta and CTP programs. So the December CTP is actually the first part of
the Beta 2 phase of the Windows Vista development cycle. The tricky part is
that while the DVD doesn’t contain the Beta 2 label, as you would have
expected, the build information that appears in the lower-right corner of the
screen does indeed read Beta 2. As I’ve already mentioned, the December CTP is
actually a very solid and feature-rich build of the Windows Vista operating

The next round

In the news recently released, Microsoft has told us that we
can expect to see the next CTP version of Beta 2, dubbed the “enterprise
CTP,” in February. This February CTP build will be the first
“feature-complete” release of Windows Vista operating system.
However, like the November CTP, the February CTP will only be released to the
elite beta testing group called the Technology Adoption Program (TAP) testers.

The next CTP version of Beta 2, falling under what Microsoft
has called the Customer Preview Program (CPP), will come in April. As the name
of this program alludes to, the April CTP will be more widely available.

Microsoft has said that once the April CTP has been toughly
vetted, the next build, which will also carry the CTP moniker, will actually be
considered to be Release Candidate 1 or RC1 for short. Therefore, it would
appear that Microsoft is indeed on schedule for the planned holiday season 2006
release of the Windows Vista operating system.

No built-in anti-virus

Although Microsoft is indeed providing an anti-virus
solution with its online Windows OneCare subscription
service, Windows Vista will not come with a preloaded version of Microsoft’s
anti-virus solution. Microsoft hasn’t provided any details on why that is, but it’s
not hard to imagine that the reason has to be tied in some way anti-trust

Furthermore, Microsoft has said that the Windows OneCare subscription service will not be compatible with
Windows Vista. While this doesn’t seem to make sense, Microsoft hasn’t provided
any more details on the topic. Of course, Windows Vista will work with anti-virus
products from Symantec, McAfee, and the many others.


Keep in mind that Windows Vista’s official release date is
still over a year away and some of the information presented here may change.
As always, if you have comments or information to share about Windows Vista’s
CTP program, please take a moment to drop by the Discussion area and let us hear.