Microsoft today officially finished the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) version of its upcoming Windows Vista operating system, with its head of development admitting he's relieved that the much-delayed OS is finally ready to ship.
"This is a good day. I am super happy," Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft's Platform Products and Services Group, said in a conference call with journalists and analysts.
The RTM version is the first step toward the widespread availability of the operating system, which is slated to be available to corporate volume license customers via the Web or on CD sometime before Nov. 30, and to general consumers on Jan. 30, 2007.
PC makers, Allchin said, are getting copies of the Vista RTM immediately. "We are giving it out as fast as we can," he said.
Nevertheless, consumers and small businesses will not be able to buy PCs with Vista preinstalled from stores or small OEMs before the Jan. 30 launch date, he said.
Vista is also not yet available for consumer download, although Microsoft has said that it will be available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers some time this month.
Allchin believes that the adoption curve for Vista among consumers will be "fast and immediate." While conceding that businesses will need to "decide on their own whether to deploy quickly or wait for their refresh cycle," Allchin said that improved management and deployment features such as an already-available application compatibility testing kit should speed up rollouts.
"The reasons for waiting just aren't there," he said.
Allchin also touted Vista's improved security, with features such as Address Space Layer Randomisation, which makes each Vista machine sufficiently different that the chance for worms to jump from one Vista PC to another is "much smaller."
Vista has been five years in the making, and represents the longest lag time between releases of Windows in Microsoft's history. The company has said that it does not expect the development of the next release of Windows to take nearly as long as this one did. Although Microsoft is not committing to timetables, company officials have said that they are targeting a time frame closer to two years than five years for the next OS release.
The next release will most likely represent a more incremental change than does Windows Vista, which includes major changes to the user interface, as well as highly revamped security and networking capabilities.
At Microsoft's Vista blog, Allchin, who is stepping down after Vista's launch, celebrated its release.
There is also a Q&A on Microsoft's site with Sven Hallauer, release manager and director of program management at Microsoft.