Got Vista? Get the Latest SP1 Candidate

Despite earlier statements to the contrary, Microsoft has released the latest prerelease version of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) for any Vista user who wants to give it a test drive.

Microsoft made the first public test release of Vista SP1 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) available to all users in December. A release candidate — or RC, in Microsoft’s lexicon — is the final test phase before a product or update is released officially to the public.

Previous test releases of Vista SP1 had been limited to about 15,000 testers — primarily Microsoft Connect, Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN), and TechNet subscribers. The company had said initially that it would only give the latest RC1 drop to the initial, smaller group. In the interest of garnering more feedback, however, Microsoft changed its plans, releasing the RC to the public.

Microsoft repeatedly has said that SP1 is on track for release during the first quarter of 2008. This latest test release appears to reinforce that schedule. Vista was launched for enterprise customers in November 2006 and became available for sale to consumers on Jan. 29, 2007.

The arrival of SP1, with its improvements and fixes, is expected to kick loose enterprise customers who many believe are waiting on buying Vista until they’re sure the new operating system is mature enough for business use. Conventional wisdom among corporate buyers dictates that a release isn’t truly ready enterprise adoption until it receives its first Service Pack update.

“They’re coming up to the final release of SP1 and it’s pretty stable by now,” Roger Kay, president of analysis firm Endpoint Technologies, told “People have said it’s a lot better than the original release [a year ago], which was pretty bad, even by Microsoft standards.”

The news coincides with other signs that Vista adoption may be on the rise. Business PC and software retailer CDW, which surveyed Vista use among 772 IT decision-makers, said in a statement Monday that 35 percent of organizations “completed implementing Windows Vista or are in various stages of implementation.”

That’s an increase from 12 percent in February 2007, according to CDW. The Vista SP1 RC1 “refresh” — as it’s known — is available for download here.

Adapted from

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