Vista betas can't install patches

Users still running pre-release copies of Windows Vista are not receiving security updates via Windows Update.

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Users still running pre-release copies of Windows Vista are not receiving security updates via Windows Update.

Microsoft this week confirmed that the critical patches for Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) that were released this week had not been made automatically available.

The no-updates policy had already been spelled out to users who installed the beta and two release candidates (RC) last year, said Microsoft. A company spokeswoman pointed to an August entry on the Vista security team's blog that said updates for the beta would cease when RC1 appeared, and updates for RC1 (and the follow-on RC2) would stop once the final code was sent to manufacturing.

"Microsoft no longer provides service or support for the pre-release versions," the spokeswoman said in an e-mail. "This would include [security] updates."

What Microsoft doesn't say is that even attempts to install manually downloaded Vista patches will fail. Efforts to do so result with a dialog box that reads: "The update does not apply to your system." Only an OK button is offered; clicking it closes the dialog without installing the patch.

Earlier this week, Microsoft rolled out the May set of security bulletins, which included a cumulative update for IE. MS07-027 patched five bugs in the Vista version of IE7; two were labelled critical.

The five new vulnerabilities more than doubled the previous total issued for Vista since its Jan. 30 general launch. The others -- an update to Vista's anti-spyware scanning engine, a fix for the animated cursor (ANI) bug and a patch for the MsgBox vulnerability - were also not distributed to pre-release users.

The Vista beta and RC clocks are ticking. Last month, Microsoft said that the previews will expire on 31 May. "After 31 May, customers who continue to use prerelease versions of Windows Vista will be able to log in for two-hour sessions to retrieve data," Nick White, a Vista program manager, said when Microsoft unveiled details of the preview-to-final upgrade path. "After two hours of use, the PC will automatically reboot without providing the opportunity to save data."

Users will have until Aug. 28 to copy any data on the crippled machine to other media or another system. After that date, preview copies of Vista will refuse to launch.

"It is strongly recommended that PC users running any of these pre-release versions of Windows Vista migrate their PCs to the final version of Windows Vista or another operating system prior to 31 May," White said.

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