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It’s been a long time coming, but Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 is finally here. As Microsoft starts to collect feedback from a broad spectrum of users in one of its largest test programs ever, the company will soon be in a position to decide whether the product is solid enough to meet announced ship dates of November for enterprise customers and January 2007 for consumers.

Earlier this week, I started using Vista build 5568, a version that Microsoft says should be virtually indistinguishable from the actual RC1 code. Since recent Vista revisions have been focusing on improving performance, compatibility, and stability rather than adding features, there’s not a lot to highlight that’s truly new. Instead, I’ve compiled a walkthrough of 100 screen shots recapping what Vista looks like from top to bottom.

The most pressing question for RC1 is whether it shows that Vista is good enough to ship. In my experience so far, it’s getting a lot closer, but it’s not quite there yet. Microsoft representatives acknowledge that the term “Release Candidate” might be slightly confusing, as it implies a non-zero probability that the code might be what actually goes into production—which clearly isn’t the case for RC1.

With build 5568, I’ve encountered recurring problems when resuming from sleep, anomalous network behavior, and some performance issues. That said, for the most part, the experience is remarkably good—enough so that I’m thinking I may finally be able to start using Vista as a production platform. Most of the flaws I’ve encountered are minor nuisances rather than showstoppers.

http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2012792,00.asp


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