Microsoft posted for download on October 6, as expected, a new test build of Vista, No. 5744, which the company has christened Release Candidate (RC) 2.
The company also sent a note the same day to its Technology Adoption Program (TAP) partners who are testing Office 2007, notifying them that Office 2007 is just weeks away from release to manufacturing (RTM).
“We are pleased to announce that the 2007 Office system will be released to manufacturing (RTM) in the next few weeks,” read the note to TAP testers, a copy of which is available on the Activewin.com Web site.
Microsoft is planning to shut down the Office Preview site, from which testers have been accessing beta downloads, on October 25, according to the TAP note. On October 28, support for Office 2007 products will transition from the Beta support newsgroups to Microsoft Customer Service and support. The BetaPlace Web site and support newsgroups for Office 2007 will close down on October 30. And the SharePoint team beta sites will be decommissioned on October 31.
On the Vista front, Microsoft released the following statement Friday:
"Inline with the distribution of previous interim releases, Microsoft is distributing this (RC2) build to a select number of Customer Preview Program (CPP) participants, in addition to the regular distribution to TechBeta, TechNet, TAP and MSDN."
Microsoft officials said last week that the October test build of Vista would be the last broadscale beta of the product released before Vista goes gold.
While some company watchers have continued to remain skeptical that Microsoft would be able to meet its goals of releasing Vista and Office 2007 to manufacturing before the end of this calendar year, it looks like Microsoft is on track to do so.
Microsoft officials have said to expect Vista to be available to business customers some time in November. Office 2007 is expected to be available to business users around the same time. Both products are expected to launch and be available via all sales channels in late January 2007.