The last stop for Vista is a windowless conference room in Building 26, on Microsoft's sprawling campus in the Seattle suburbs.
Each day, members of the Windows team gather inside this "shiproom" to go over the bugs that remain, and to debate which of these can still be fixed in the days left until the product is declared finished, a milestone that is expected any time now.
The intense "end game," as these final weeks are known, is a well-worn tradition inside the shiproom, which is on the third floor of the Windows development building. The small room, with its dated, dark wood conference table has been the war room for every Windows release since Windows 2000.
On the wall are knick-knacks from past projects, as well as clocks showing the minutes ticking away in a dozen time zones. The clocks serve as a reminder that Microsoft has a deadline to meet. The company has scheduled a November 30 press event in New York to announce the availability to businesses of Windows Vista, while computer makers need to get the final code in order to finish their testing and get Vista on PCs in time for a broad launch in January.
The once-daily shiproom meetings have become twice-a-day events as the product has neared completion. Projected onto a screen is a list of unresolved issues that need to be addressed before Vista can leave. There were about five dozen such issues at a meeting last Wednesday morning.
Sven Hallauer, who heads up the process, moved quickly through the list as about 40 programmers, nearly all with a laptop in tow, worked to keep up. At each sticking-point, the person responsible for tracking the issue gave a one-sentence report on where things were. Continue At Source