Microsoft is revving up the Windows Vista Beta 2 engine this week with a whole slew of announcements, white papers, tools, and of course the Windows Vista Customer Preview Program (CPP) aimed at getting all of us back on the bandwagon! Let’s take a closer look.
Bill Gates introduces Windows Vista Beta 2

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At WinHEC on May 23, Bill Gates announced that along with the release of Windows Vista Beta 2, Microsoft is also releasing Beta 2 of Windows Server Longhorn as well as Beta 2 of 2007 Microsoft Office system. Here’s an excerpt from that speech:

Today is a milestone for us in terms of the huge investment and big innovation going into the next major version of Windows, and all of the complementary products. We’re actually announcing today the beta of three major products. You can say the three most important Microsoft products, and we’ve never had this synchronized in this way before, and we think that’s a great thing for us in terms of seeing how they work together, and then for customers as it comes time for them to roll these things out. So, very specifically, Windows Vista Beta 2 is coming out today. The Windows Server, Longhorn Beta is coming out today. And, likewise, what was called Office 12, but now the 2007 Office System coming out. Each of these is a very, very important product, and they all fit within some very common themes in terms of what we’re doing.
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You can read the entire transcript or watch a video of the event.
Kernel improvements

As all of us Windows veterans know by now, having a solid operating system kernel is the key to stability. One of the things that Microsoft is touting with the release of Windows Vista Beta 2 is that they have made substantial enhancements to the kernel at the core of the Windows Vista. For more on the Windows Vista kernel, take a look at the white paper “Kernel Enhancements for Windows Vista and Windows Server Longhorn.”
What’s new in Beta 2?

Even if you’ve been following the development of the Windows Vista operating system for a long time now, you’re probably wondering just what exactly is new in Beta 2? Well to help us answer that question, Microsoft PressPass has put together the Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2 Fact Sheet to help us all zero in on what Microsoft is considering to be the key points in Beta 2.
Get the comprehensive guide

If you want to get the whole story on Windows Vista, then you need to take a look at the comprehensive “Windows Vista Product Guide”. And when Microsoft says “comprehensive” they aren’t kidding. This Word document weighs in at 60MB!

However, it does cover almost all of the features and functions that make up Windows Vista as well as detailed information about the different editions (SKUs) that will be available.
Take the test

One of the most controversial issues surrounding Windows Vista has to do with the hardware requirements necessary to access the full potential of the new operating system including its high-powered graphics system. Well, now you can determine how well you current system will fare if it were tasked with running Windows Vista today by downloading the beta version of the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor. This tool is designed to help you determine if your current PC is ready for an upgrade to Windows Vista. In addition it will help you to choose the edition of Windows Vista that’s right for your needs.
Getting a new system?

If you discover that your current system won’t be able to power Windows Vista you may want to consider a new system in the near future. If so, you’ll want to know the difference between a Windows Vista Capable PC and a Windows Vista Premium Ready PC. To get the scoop, you need to visit the Windows Vista Capable and Premium Ready PC page.

Microsoft is pumping up the Windows Vista Beta 2 volume with lots and lots of information. I’ve pointed out links to a lot of this information and I’m sure that by the time you visit these sites, there will be a lot more. As always, if you have comments or information to share about the Beta 2 or any of the Windows Vista information I’ve mention, please take a moment to drop by the Discussion area and let us hear.