Right now Vista is in Beta 2 with interim builds coming out every week or so for selected individuals. From what I?ve heard it should progress into RC1 (the first Release Candidate) sometime next month. Microsoft is still hoping to have it finalized by November and ready to ship to computer manufacturers and other bulk licensing customers. That means Dell, HP, Sony, Gateway, and the others should be able to customize their OEM versions and have computers rolling out with Vista preinstalled in January, the same time Microsoft is hoping to release it to the general public in a retail package.

Now, because of the previous delays Microsoft and the computer manufacturers will miss the holiday shopping season, a big hit to their financial earnings. As a result Microsoft has started the Vista-Capable and Vista-Premium program, where currently-offered computers will be certified as ready for Vista in an effort to get consumers to buy. In addition, there are rumors that this holiday season those who purchase a computer running XP will receive a free or discounted voucher for a Vista upgrade when it is available. It is also expected that there will be a price drop prior to Vista?s release so that they can liquidate computers running the older OS. Thus, you may want to consider purchasing a new computer during this time period instead of waiting until Vista is released.

Hope this helps,
John