Microsoft is counting on "aggressive" beta testers to get Windows Vista into the shops in time, according to the operating system's project manager.

Sven Hallauer, director of release management for Windows Vista, said the product team of 5,000 engineers is working upwards of 70-hour weeks on Vista Release Candidate 1 as it heads for shipment.

RC1 is expected to ship early next month and represents code deemed good enough to ship but which needs to be put through a final round of testing.

Hallauer said during a Podcast posted on the Windows Vista team blog that it is imperative testers get to work immediately when RC1 is released and dedicate as much time as possible to testing and providing feedback back to Microsoft so it can meet its internal release dates. The company says Vista will ship in November.

"As soon as the build is out, download it, install it, test it, and file bugs," says Hallauer. "Time is of the essence. We have a feedback window of two to three weeks after RC1 release where we can really make changes to the product in terms of getting deeper into the product's code base. Thereafter, we become very, very constrained in terms of what we can change without resetting the clock and slipping the release."

The release of Vista has slipped so many times critics have stopped counting. But given past timeframes for product development, if Microsoft can get sufficient feedback fast enough after RC1 ships they would have another couple of weeks to finalise release-to-manufacturing (RTM) code and have the product ready for corporate users by the end of November.

"It is really, really important from a community perspective that everyone that is part of the Vista beta is really, really aggressive around the RC1 milestone release to go test as soon as possible, as many hours as possible," says Hallauer.