Microsoft has made a final test version of its forthcoming Windows Vista operating system available to testers.
The new build is also available to Microsoft’s Customer Preview Programme participants for a limited time.
The software giant’s platforms and services co-president Jim Allchin said Windows Vista Release Candidate 2 (RC2) included “thousands of quality improvements since Windows Vista RC1”. These had boosted performance, application compatibility and “fit and finish”, he said.
Testers’ feedback had helped Microsoft focus on “nothing but bug fixes over the past month”, he added.
Release to manufacture and shipping of Windows Vista were now “just around the corner”, Allchin said.
Microsoft published US prices for the new operating system last month and confirmed that large companies would be able to get Vista from November, with a general release from January next year.
But the company is embroiled in a wrangle with the European Commission over compliance with competition rules that could delay Vista’s European launch. The row centres on new security features that could threaten the market position of existing security software firms.
Microsoft has been fined for failing to comply with a 2004 anti-trust ruling by the Commission. The company is appealing against the judgement.