As you heard here last week, Microsoft is making the Release Candidate (RC) test build of Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 available to a private group of testers this week and to the general public the week of December 10.
Microsoft confirmed its RC rollout plans on December 5. Today, Wednesday, the company made the Vista SP1 RC bits available via Microsoft Connect to the same 15,000 testers it provided with the RC preview. On December 6, Thursday, Microsoft plans to make the Vista SP1 RC bits available on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet, officials said. And next week, the week of the 10th, Microsoft plans to make the Vista SP1 RC build available to anyone interested in downloading it from the Microsoft Download site.
Microsoft is still on track to deliver the final SP1 bits in the first calendar quarter of 2008, officials said.
Vista SP1 includes security, performance and reliability updates. Microsoft is emphasizing that in spite of the security updates, Vista SP1 won't break applications on anywhere near the scale that Windows XP Service Pack 2 did when it was released in 2004.
David Zipkin, Senior Product Manager with Windows Client, said Microsoft has managed to shrink significantly the size of the standalone installation packages for Vista SP1 since the company made a beta of the service pack available this summer. As itemized on the Windows Vista Team Blog, Microsoft has cut the size of the installer package between 37 percent (for the five-language pack) to 58 percent (for the package encompassing all languages). Microsoft also has cut back "significantly" the amount of disc space needed for SP1.
The size of the SP1 has been one of the major points of criticm by testers of the early builds of the service pack.
Zipkin uncharacteristically shared a bit of advance information about Microsoft's rollout plans for the final SP1 build.
Microsoft plans to release Vista SP1 in two waves: Vista SP1 for Microsoft's five primary languages (English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese) shortly after the product is released to manufacturing. Eight to 12 weeks later, it will roll out the final SP1 installers for all languages, Zipkin said.
Microsoft is planning to make available, as it did with Windows XP SP2 and other Windows releases, a blocking tool that administrators can use to prevent Windows Vista SP1 from being pushed onto users' desktops before they have tested sufficiently the update.