Surprise! If you were among the 15,000 chosen testers who got the Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 Release Candidate (RC) 1 Refresh 2 test build in late January, you already have the final SP1 bits.
Microsoft changed the version number on the code, but the bits are exactly the same, company officials acknowledged on February 7.
I asked Microsoft last week whether the Refresh 2 build was the release to manufacturing (RTM) build and company officials said, point-blank, it was not. So why admit it now?
"We couldn't say anything prior because before the RC is approved for RTM (Monday morning, February 4), there is always the possibility the code will get changed," a company spokeswoman said.
The new statement, as of today:
"RC Refresh 2 code is the same as RTM. In final stages of a product Microsoft likes to get as much validation as possible before releasing. The release candidate ended up being a high enough quality to be approved to release to manufacturing."
Since Microsoft announced on February 4 that, as a result of driver issues, it wouldn't release the final Vista SP1 bits to customers until March, at the earliest, there has been a lot of unrest -- especially among technically savvy users who felt they could circumvent the driver-installation problems that cropped up with SP1 during testing.
If you are not among the 15,000 who got SP1 RC Refresh 2, Microsoft says you are still going to have to wait until some time in March, at the earliest, to get the code, whether you are interested in getting it via Microsoft Download site, MSDN/TechNet or Windows Update. If you are waiting to get Vista SP1 preloaded on new systems from Microsoft's PC partners, you'll have to wait until April, according to Microsoft.
Just for the record, I asked Microsoft yesterday whether a story claiming that the company was planning to deliver the final Vista SP1 bits to some in mid-February, rather than March, was correct. (To me, this seems more like Microsoft telling its own product-support teams to be ready for SP1 questions by February 18, rather than an actual February 18 rollout.)
Microsoft officials said the company's previous statements on availability were all that they'd say on the matter of SP1 availability. Make of that what you will....