Microsoft is set to release the first beta of the next version of Windows later today.

Winbeta, a website that focuses on Microsoft and Windows in particular, posted an entry stating Microsoft would release the beta of Windows Vista on Wednesday. Windows Vista is the version of Windows formerly code-named Longhorn.

On Friday, Microsoft officially named Longhorn "Windows Vista," and said the beta of the product would be available by 3 August. The projected release of the beta is a bit ahead of that schedule, but in line with the company's previously stated plans to release the first beta of the operating system during the summer season in the U.S.

According to Winbeta.org, the beta will include a first glimpse into Internet Explorer (IE) 7, a release Microsoft has promised with have anti-phishing capabilities as well as a host of other enhancements. Microsoft also will release a version of IE 7 for Windows XP concurrent with the release of Windows Vista.

Microsoft already has stated that the first beta will include only some of the new functionality of Windows Vista, such as virtual folders and a new desktop search engine, but will not include much of the GUI (graphical user interface) enhancements of the finished product.

The release also will include beta versions of both the Indigo Web services-based communications framework and the Avalon user interface, the company has said.

In addition, Microsoft is widely expected to release more robust preview build of Windows Vista to developers at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in mid-September.