Microsoft releases new betas for 'Longhorn,' Vista and Windows Server

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Customers conducting early deployment of next-generation Microsoft products hit the trifecta today.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant made beta 2 versions of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and the next version of Windows Server – now codenamed "Longhorn" - immediately available today.

Vista, the operating system that has had its release date pushed back until January of next year, will have a number of added security features to simplify PC security, Microsoft officials have said.

"The release of these three betas is a significant milestone for Microsoft and a major step toward delivering the platforms that will drive the next decade of computing," said Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect, in announcing the releases at the Microsoft Windows Hardware Engineering Conference 2006. "The combination of these innovative platform technologies and the new hardware and software being developed by our partners will make PCs and other devices more powerful, more useful and more intelligent for businesses today and into the future."

The three products will have enhanced protection from malicious software and emails, according to a Microsoft statement.

Gates said at RSA Conference 2006 in San Jose that software designers must continue to simplify the security landscape in order to help IT pros and end users.

Speculation ran rampant last week after Symantec filed suit against Microsoft, claiming that Redmond had misused volume management software.

The suit, filed last Thursday in a Seattle court, claimed unspecified damages and could halt Vista’s release.

The case is related to a 1996 contract between Microsoft and Veritas licensing Veritas’ software. Cupertino, Calif.,-based Symantec acquired Veritas last year.

A court order would cease any development or sale of technology related to the former Veritas software.

However, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said on Monday that he does not expect the suit to delay next year’s planned release of the operating system.

Microsoft also announced the minimum and preferred system requirements for Vista last week.

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