Microsoft’s Alex Heaton explains about the updates:
Windows Vista is the first major Microsoft product release that will be serviced with security updates throughout the beta process. We are committed to release Windows Vista updates for all MSRC critical class issues that may arise during the beta testing period. We strive to release any Windows Vista updates as soon as possible, but our priority will be to release the updates for Windows products that have been released to manufacturing.
We have received multiple inquires from Windows Vista beta testers asking if their systems are affected by the security bulletins released last week. Of the seven critical Windows updates released in August, only 2 (MS06-042 and MS06-051) also affect Windows Vista Beta 2 or later. Windows Vista (Beta 2 or later) is not one of the operating systems affected by Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-040.
Updates for the 2 issues mentioned above have been released to Windows Update and are available in the Microsoft Download Center.
Not everyone was happy about the late notice. Support for Vista Beta 2 will end when RC1 appears and support for all pre-release versions will end when Vista is released to manufacturing.
The Seattle Times‘ Brier Dudley notes that things are looking up for Vista uptake according to a Merrill Lynch survey of CIOs:
The survey found 15 percent plan to upgrade to Vista in 2007, up from 8 percent in the April survey. Only 39 percent are waiting for clarity about the product, down from 75 percent in the previous survey.
This seems to be business as usual for a new operating system, at least at companies big enough to have a CIO.
Finally, Mary Jo Foley at Microsoft Watch reports that a new test build (rumored to be build 5506) of Vista has some newly embedded Windows Live links on the Welcome screen (Bink.nu has a screenshot):
Microsoft is poised to release a new pre-RC1 test build of Windows Vista any day now to a select group of testers. The latest builds include links to Windows Live Messenger, Toolbar, OneCare and Desktop Mail.
Windows Live Messenger is the successor to MSN Messenger, Microsoft’s free instant-messaging service. Windows Live OneCare is the paid, subscription-based backup and security service the company launched in late May. Windows Live Toolbar is a collection of Windows Live search, antivirus, mapping and other utilities similar to the Google Toolbar. Windows Live Desktop Mail is a program that allows users to view mail from all of their various e-mail accounts in a single pane.
Live Messenger can be viewed as a replacement for Windows Messenger which shipped with Windows XP and similarly Live Mail Desktop (I thought it was now Live Mail Center?) can be viewed as a replacement for Outlook Express which also shipped with XP. I’m almost surprised they aren’t pre-installed, but there are likely good reasons:
Company watchers have been wondering whether Microsoft would bundle any Windows Live services directly into Windows, given the ongoing antitrust scrutiny to which the company has been subject in recent years, in the U.S. and abroad. The European Commission required Microsoft to offer alongside its standard Windows XP software a separate version of Windows XP that did not include Windows Media Player as an embedded component. In South Korea, Microsoft has faced legal challenges for integrating Windows Media Player and Windows Messenger in Windows XP.
Microsoft’s decision whether to integrate Windows Live services into Vista or not “probably has more to do with Microsoft’s interpretation of assorted global government restrictions than it does assessments of real-world customer value,” said Peter O’Kelly, an analyst with the Burton Group.
In any case, this Welcome screen appears to be the one that OEMs can customize according to their whims and own business deals, so it remains to be seen what will actually appear on any given new Vista PC. Of course, since this is a beta build, the vanilla Microsoft version could still change a lot before RTM.