If you want something done properly, do it yourself, so the saying goes. And Microsoft has done just that when testing beta versions of the upcoming Windows Vista operating system.

A product manager for Microsoft UK visited PC Advisor today and told us that the company has rolled out around 50,000 Windows Vista installs to staff globally, with the majority of Microsoft employees now using the OS.

To all intents and purposes, the operating system is complete, with only a few minor tweaks expected before the release to businesses next month, and consumers in January. Those dates are set in stone now, the Microsoft spokesperson told us.

Compared to previous pre-release versions, the final edition will be quicker to install (it now takes 15 minutes for a clean install), while those upgrading their XP machines will also be pleasantly surprised with the install times, we were told.

Also, keep your eyes peeled for some big software announcements to coincide with Windows Vista’s release. Microsoft said several developers are working on products to make the most of Vista’s advances, and we were told that Microsoft bigwig Jim Allchin, co-president of its platforms and services division, described one as "the best Windows application ever".