Microsoft's Windows Vista desktop software and Longhorn Server both hit new milestones this week with the release of another major community technical preview for Vista and the release of an updated build of Longhorn Server code.
The Longhorn code will not be available via MSDN or TechNet. Rather, it's a limited release that will go to participants in the technology adoption program. Microsoft said the Longhorn community technical preview (CTP) will start after the release of beta 2 in the first half of 2006. Longhorn is not scheduled to ship until sometime in 2007.
Feedback from the current Vista CTP is also targeting enterprise shops. Microsoft's partners provided input for the last technical preview in December. Windows Vista is expected to have another CTP this spring, which will have wide distribution among consumers and will be equal to the culmination of beta 2, Microsoft executives said.
The desktop software, which is feature complete, is due out later in 2006.
Microsoft also released two tools today to help customers work with Vista. First is an application compatibility toolkit for customers so they can get a feel for how compatible applications will be with the Vista release. The second is a user migration toolkit.
The executives touted a few of the features that will help their largest customers cut down on support costs. The first is the ability to create language and hardware-independent images at an operating-system level. Most companies need to have different images residing on different hardware or form factors.
Most organizations spend about $100,000 on each unique image, said Brad Goldberg, general manager of Windows client product management at Microsoft. Moving to a consistent image model can drive down the number of images that customers need to maintain separately.
Microsoft also has released a new automated installation kit to help edit and deploy images. The kit is available on TechNet, Goldberg said.
Another big feature for enterprise customers is Vista's User Account Control, which gives IT shops the ability to let end users run their computers in standard mode, versus administrator mode.
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