Vista gets official release dates

Microsoft has set November 30 as the release date for Vista (and Office 2007) to business customers and January 30 2007 as the date for the official launch to consumers and The World At Large.

Five years three months and five days after Windows XP made its debut Microsoft will usher its next-generation OS onto the stage.
APC has been advised by a very well placed source that January 30 2007 is about to be announced as the official release date for Vista.

In addition in a move that mirrors previous side-by-side launches of Microsoft’s OS and Office suite (in the 95 and XP waves) Office 2007 will also touch down on that day.

However as previously planned Vista and Office 2007 will first step out for a ‘business launch’ on November 30 (alongside Exchange 2007). From that date the programs will be available to corporate customers who hold an enterprise licence or software assurance deal with Microsoft.

The mainstream ‘consumer launch’ will take place two months later at which point stores will offer a riot of Vista retail packs as well as desktops and notebooks pre-loaded with Vista.

Corporate customers system builders and everyone else who has a spot near the front of the queue should have access to the final code for Vista and Office before the month is out. Both the OS and Office suite are expected to make the transition from a tweaked Release Candidate to the final ‘gold master’ and hit RTM (Release To Manufacture) stage around the middle of this month.

For Vista this will include a build number of 6000 which also matches the 6.0 reference that denotes Microsoft considers this the sixth full version of their beloved OS. Both Windows 95 line and NT 4.0 were officially stamped as Windows version 4 (or variants such as Windows 98 being 4.1); Windows 2000 was christened as version 5 and XP anointed as Windows version 5.1 (due to its being built on the NT/2000 codebase).

(You don’t have to take our word for it: these version numbers are still there under the covers. Run a DOS box and enter VER at the command prompt to see for yourself).

The past thirty days have been a hive of hyper-activity at Redmond as the ‘Softies cleared the decks in readiness for the Vista wave.

On October 9 Microsoft released local retail pricing for Vista and US pricing for Office 2007 although we’ve yet to hear the cost of Office 2007 in Aussie dollars.

The long-running Office 2007 beta program also began to be wound down.

Final versions of Internet Explorer 7 Windows Media Player 11 Windows Defender and Windows Desktop Search 3 all broke cover during the past fortnight. This also indicated how close things were to Vista’s RTM as each of these programs is rolled into the shiny new OS as well as offered as stand-alone components for XP.

Last week Microsoft announced details of the discount scheme intended to soften consumer resistance (and thus reduce vendor angst) when it comes to buying a new PC for Christmas while Vista remained just around the corner. Under the plan many systems will quality for a free upgrade to Vista while paying only a nominal (sub-$30) cost for delivery and handling.

Yesterday saw the unboxing of the Vista retail boxes and today confirmation of local prices for upgrading from XP to Vista.

Expect a formal announcement from Microsoft Australia shortly.