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Windows Vista for everyone to test

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Jack Writes: Microsoft Corporation has made available its Windows Vista to the public for testing. The company announced Wednesday Beta 2, the latest test version of the operating system, will be available in English, German, and Japanese versions -- in either 32-bit or 64-bit editions -- for downloading.

The English 32-bit version is 3.13 GB and in .iso format. It can be downloaded from Microsoft's Vista beta site.

Users will have to burn the file into a DVD. Microsoft is arranging to send a physical disc at a small cost ($6) for users not having a DVD-RW.

Microsoft said it will send the product registration keys, required to install Vista from the DVD, by e-mail to those who had downloaded Beta 2, (named the Customer Preview Program). Those calling for discs will get the keys along with the discs.

Microsoft is partnering with Akamai Technologies to help users manage the download, especially when internet connections are disturbed during the download. Akamai Technologies will provide a download management utility, which can be downloaded as an ActiveX control by Internet Explorer users. Other browser users are provided with a Java version of the utility.

Microsoft had released Beta 2 in May to limited number of testers.

Microsoft cautioned average users against downloading and testing the program, saying it is actually intended for tech professionals and developers, or those who had adequate knowledge of the system. The company also asked the prospective users to test their machines for "Vista Ready" application, to ensure that the PC is ready for the new operating system. While it is looking for millions of testers, the company said it may cap the test program at some point.

The company plans to complete the testing and development of the program later this year in order to launch the product in early 2007.

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