Paul Thurrott’s latest Vista schedule buzz:
Currently, Microsoft plans to ship the feature-complete internal build on January 31, 2006, and then ship a near-feature-complete Community Technology Preview (CTP) build to testers on February 17. (To date, more than 50 product teams have submitted code for the feature-complete builds.) Windows Vista Beta 2 is due on April 12, followed by a release candidate (RC) build in July and release to manufacturing (RTM) in August. Assuming this last date is met, the general release of the product will occur in October.
If so, that means Vista misses back-to-school buying, but does catch the Christmas shopping season.
Robert Scoble suggests that the answer to “Why do I need Windows Vista?” is in a number of Channel 9 videos and Manuel Clement posts the links. See also the commentary from Sean Alexander and Brandon LeBlanc. Read the list, watch the videos, and decide for yourself, but my take is that the list is not compelling enough to drive a large volume of upgrades and that merely means business as usual in the client OS market.
Hector J. Rodriguez at OSR Online notes that Microsoft has new restrictions on unsigned Vista drivers:
In the latest shocker to hit the driver development community, it seems that Microsoft has decided that only signed drivers will be loadable on 64-bit Windows Vista systems.
In a paper released today (19 January) on the WHDC website Microsoft indicated that for Windows Vista “unsigned kernel-mode software will not load and will not run on x64-based systems.” This is in addition to the fact the users without administrator privilege, on any Vista system (32-bit or 64-bit) will not be able to load unsigned drivers.
While getting the Design For Windows logo by passing the WHQL tests is one option, developers can obtain a Publisher Identify Certificate (PIC) from Microsoft and use that to sign their code. Prerequisite to obtaining a PIC is an organization having a Class 3 Commercial Software Publisher Certificate issued by Verisign. What? Your org doesn’t use Verisign for their PKI infrastructure? Apparently that’s just too bad. The necessary certification is only $500 (valid for a year), which shouldn’t present a burden for most companies.
As he observes, it’s a little late to be springing a surprise like this. The whole driver signing issue is a perennial bone of contention and note that some software unrelated to any hardware qualifies as “kernel-mode software”, much to the consternation of ISV’s that develop it and discover they have to fit within the constraints of Microsoft’s device driver program.