Microsoft Releases Windows Vista Enterprise CTP

Microsoft kicked off the beta 2 testing cycle for Windows Vista on Wednesday with the release of its planned Enterprise Community Technology Preview (CTP) for businesses, which represents the first

February 23, 2006

3 Min Read
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Microsoft kicked off the beta 2 testing cycle for Windows Vista on Wednesday with the release of its planned Enterprise Community Technology Preview (CTP) for businesses.

The Enterprise CTP, the first feature-complete test version of Vista, is one of two CTPs that Microsoft plans to make available to roughly 500,000 testers as part of the unofficial beta 2 process. The Redmond, Wash., company last month detailed its plans for a two-phased beta 2 process.

Microsoft said the Enterprise CTP offers many features designed to reduce the cost and complexity of desktop deployment, as well as improve browser and data security, mobile and remote productivity, and the way people are connected to corporate data. For example, the code offers a standard corporate imaging format to reduce the number of images administrators need to support, a more intuitive way to search information, faster on/off speed for laptops, a new mobility center and the ability to access terminal server applications without a VPN.

Microsoft told business users and partners to focus their testing on the new corporate-oriented features in this Vista build. Still, the company warned customers and partners to watch out for application incompatibility issues that will crop up as a result of the new user account feature.

Next quarter, Microsoft plans to make the second CTP of Windows available to between 1 million and 2 million consumers before it ships the release candidate next fall and the final code by the end of 2006.The two CTPs being made available will supplant the traditional beta 2 process, according to Microsoft. Windows Vista beta 1 shipped last July.

Microsoft didn’t discuss the number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) or versions of Windows Vista planned, but the company said it will release details on the lineup soon. In mid-January, CRN reported that there will be six versions of Windows Vista and Microsoft will ship the same full bit set with all versions.

Solution providers said that having the feature-complete Enterprise CTP in hand nearly a year before the product ships will help them prepare for the Vista upgrade cycle, the first major upgrade of Windows since Windows XP shipped in 2001. They also lauded the new corporate-focused features in Vista that stand to reduce the time and cost of desktop deployment, maintenance and connectivity.

"I like it as a business upgrade. The version we're running is fast, has some nice features and will potentially make managing desktops easier," said Michael Healey, president of TenCorp, a Microsoft solution provider and system builder in Needham, Mass. “Beta is a good time to give feedback that helps define the final product. XP tends to have a 'consumer' slant to it, adding a bunch of components that tend to annoy our corporate customers."

Microsoft said it will not add any more features but will refine the code's performance and fix any issues before the second CTP is issued. The company said it hopes to get a lot of corporate feedback on any potential issues, such as application incompatibility.In Vista, Microsoft enacted a new user account protection feature that eliminates many of the administrative privileges users have had access to and that hackers have exploited. Such privileges, for instance, have allowed remote users to install printer drivers or ActiveX controls and change time zone settings.

Assigning a standard user profile for most end users will close many of those privileges and the vulnerabilities that plagued past Windows releases. But that also could cause incompatibilities with existing applications that depend on administrative privileges, Microsoft warned.

To help address that issue, Microsoft plans to release the first beta of its Windows Vista Application Compatibility Toolkit with the next CTP release this spring. The software giant also plans to roll out to partners and customers a data migration toolkit designed to ease the migration process.

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