Some won't have to wait until March for Vista SP1, after all

Some won't have to wait until March for Vista SP1, after all

Summary: 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.


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....

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • If the code is final, why not release it? (nt)

    nt = no text
  • What a comical bunch of carp...

  • Why not just get from the web:?

    No link, this will be deleted. If you are truly that anxious to get RC1 though, you don't have to wait.

    • You can, but...

      Since everything leaks to the Web's underworld a millisecond after release, I have no doubt that Vista SP1 must be available for download in thousands of sites and torrents out there by now.

      And this time, since Vista SP1 is not a full commercial software product but a free update, no matter how much Microsoft's lawyers whine and make ugly faces and threats, I'm pretty sure that this would be considered a perfectly legal download in most, if not all jurisdictions. The fact that Microsoft acknowledged that the RTM version is the same as RC2 (which is publicly available for free download) adds even more weight to that.

      Of course, there is always some risk in doing that. As it often happens with such "warez" sites, you could get a crippled or modified version, which could contain introduced malware. So, I can't really advise anyone to do that.
    • Get SP1 from Web?

      You could do that but your SOL if the install goes south. When the SP is "officially" released, MS will provide phone support for any install issues encountered. (oh yes, there will be issues!)
    • RE: "Why not...?"

      Lets'try to answer your question easily:

      DON'T GET IT VIA P2P clientws!!!!

      If you REALLY want it, google around for the information which will enable you to easily install it via Windows Update.

      Hint: Vista SP1 RTM=SP1 RC1 Refresh2 (Build 6001.18000).

      Donald L McDaniel
      • You don't even have to Google it

        Vista SP1 RC1 Refresh 2 is publicly and readily available for download from Microsoft's own Web site. However, I'm not sure that it doesn't have an expiry date, as Vista's own RCs had.

        It would help if one could post a reliable MD5 hash of a genuine RTM ISO file. Then one could risk the P2P clients and "warez" sites. If the hash doesn't match, discard it!
  • MS: we hate windows users

    they hate us and love bad PR
  • I don't think they changed the version number

    6001.18000 is the final version, and I'm pretty sure that's what RC the last RC was as well.

    Kinda refreshing to see that a "release candidate" actually lived up to its name -- it's what was actually released!
    • RE: Nope, they didn't

      PLEASE don't tell anyone how to do this. Everybody and his brother will start hitting Microsoft's servers.

      Donald L McDaniel

    Vista has been out for over a year, it's a piece of junk, the industry and users have overwhelmingly said so, the only ones who haven't are the shills on this site who spend twice the money the spend on hardware for an XP system to bow down and kiss Ballmer's pasty white butt.

    No one made a huge effort to bring 98 back after ME or bring 2000 back after XP, but the amount of noise being made over bringing XP back over Vista is it just that ZDNet is on the till from Microsoft and refuses to admit it's a piece of crap?

    I sincerely hope the next version of Windows is better than this pathetic offering.
    • Sit down.

      "No one made a huge effort to bring 98 back after ME". Well in fact a lot of manufacturers kept selling 98 computers for some time into ME's lifecycle due to it's problems.

      But that's besides the point. "Overwhelmingly" the press and people that haven't used Vista hate it, but people that do use it love it. Afraid of change? Well lucky you weren't the caveman that discovered fire.
      • Put down that crack pipe

        "people that do use it love it."

        Thanks for the laugh. I love it so much that I've spent the better part of a week w/ Dell trying to overcome problems I've experienced with trying to get Win XP installed on my Vista PC in a dual boot situation, and then lastly in an attempt to simply blow Vista away and install XP as the sole OS.

        And I KNOW, I'm one of thousands...
        • XP has to be installed first

          EJHonda, while I found your subject line way too rude, I'm going to give you a tip. I have been running both Vista and XP in dual-boot PC for some time now, and I had to learn it the hard way at first, but for that to work you have to re-format and partition your disk, [b]install XP first[/b] cleanly, and only then install Vista (also cleanly, booting from the DVD).

          XP's [i]ntldr[/i] doesn't recognize Vista, while the latter's bootloader does recognize XP, but [b]only[/b] if XP was already there when Vista was installed. So, XP first, Vista next. A third partition for sharing your data between systems is highly recommended: in my PC, Vista and XP share the same [i]"My Documents"[/i], for example, and I even made them transparently share the same options and stored data for some programs.

          Also highly recommended is a free utility called VistaBootPRO, available from . It gives you a lot of flexibility in tweaking the way your PC boots, from changing the default OS to renaming the options ("Earlier version of Windows" to "Windows XP," for example).

          [b]Caveat:[/b] Vista's bootloader will be stored in the [u]XP[/u] partition, and if you have Business or Ultimate and intend to use the (excellent) full system backup available in these versions, you won't be able to use it to restore your current data, otherwise you'll mess the boot up. For future backups, it will store both Vista and XP partitions, because it has to store the bootloader partition along with the system partition, and they aren't the same in this scenario. So, if you have to restore Vista, you'd better have an up-to-date XP backup as well to overwrite the restored XP partition.

          As for the "people that do use it love it" quote, I subscribe partially to that. Of course I don't like the hardware and software compatibility issues, and Vista's extreme sensitivity to system changes, among other things. But I haven't had the horror stories you read out there, and in my opinion and experience the new interface [b]is[/b] overall more pleasant and productive to work with.

          Moreover, what is often derided as "eye candy" [u]can[/u] be an important and serious issue when you spend your whole day in front of the PC. So, what I least like about Vista is having to switch to XP when I need to run something that requires it. XP looks so ugly and clumsy when you've just left Vista...
          • RE: But be VERY, VERY careful

            NOTE that sharing the "My Documents" folder between Vista and XP is VERY, VERY, DANGEROUS!! One should NEVER share System folders between different installations of Windows.

            Here is one problem with your setup:

            XP calls your documents folder "My Documents",
            while Vista doesn't allow access of that folder, since in Vista, it is strictly used as an alias to your ACTUAL C:\Users\username\Documents folder in your Vista installation.

            Donald L McDaniel
          • Actually XP does not have to be installed first

            As long as XP is installed on a differant partition or drive. Using a free program(EasyBCD v7.x)it is very easy to re install the boot laoder for dual booting Vista/XP.
            Michael L Hereid Sr
            Michael L Hereid Sr
          • To Donald and Michael:

            Donald, my strategy of moving [i]"My Documents"[/i] works like a charm and there is nothing dangerous about it - I just make use of a standard system feature that is present in both XP and Vista.

            This is because [i]"My Documents"[/i] is not [u]necessarily[/u] an alias for [i]"C:\Users\...\Documents"[/i] (in Vista) or [i]"C:\Documents and Settings\...\"[/i] (in XP). It is a specially named system folder whose location can be easily changed: you just open the "Properties" window for it and you will see a "Location" tab where you can change the folder's actual location. I had already used the same feature in XP to move the folder to my other logical drive; I just had to do the same in Vista and point to the same "real" folder. (The same applies to [i]"[My] Music," "[My] Pictures," "[My] Videos,"[/i] etc.)

            One just has to be careful and note that, in Vista, one must apply this feature on the actual original folder ([i]"C:\Users\...\Documents"[/i]) rather than on the shortcut for it in Windows Explorer's "Favorite Links." But then Vista just issues a warning that you should move all files to the new location, otherwise you'll end up with two [i]"Documents"[/i] folders. If you have just made a fresh install, doing this will just overwrite the original [i]desktop.ini[/i], but this does not prevent the folder from being detected, referenced and accessed normally in either system.

            Michael, I don't know EasyBCD (I'll look for it, thanks for the tip!), but I do know VistaBootPro, which I suppose to be similar. In the days when I was still learning Vista's new tricks, I once did manage to make things work using VistaBootPro (which, by the way, can and should be installed in both Vista and XP), but it can't work on what it doesn't "see," and there is no way that XP's [i]ntldr[/i] can "see" and acknowledge that Vista is there.

            So, the task involved a succession of tiresome and boring bootloader restores in both systems, followed by VistaBootPro tweaks, which I wouldn't even be able to explain again now. Trust me, it's not worth the trouble. Installing XP first is much better!
    • I care

      But just barely. I installed the *upgrade* version of Vista on my laptop (I need to know it to support it).

      I was surprised I didn't have any issues, even using the non-recommended upgrade install. No real performance issues, no stability issues, no incompatibilities (yet). I was avoiding it for a long time on the basis of reports I'd read, but none of the doom & gloom panned out.

      Sure, it's not Slackware (long live Slack!), but if you have to run Windows, it's not too bad.
      • Same experience here

        [i]I was surprised I didn't have any issues, even using the non-recommended upgrade install. No real performance issues, no stability issues, no incompatibilities (yet). I was avoiding it for a long time on the basis of reports I'd read, but none of the doom & gloom panned out.[/i]

        Except that it's not on a laptop and I ran a clean install, my experience with Vista is the same. All problems I had were minor and easily fixed (if all else fails, unlike XP, System Restore [u]does[/u] work well on Vista and is comparatively fast). No problems with my peripherals and drivers, and very few software compatibility problems (most of them readily solved with new releases or updates). Oddly, I've found that older software (developed for Win9x) are the least likely to have any problems with Vista.

        Now, I'm not dismissing the horror stories one hears out there. If there is so much outcry, it's certainly not without reason. I also don't claim that Vista is the best OS in the world - it's not. I'm only pointing that Vista is not [u]necessarily[/u] all that bad, but appears to be highly dependent on each specific PC's configuration, down to the last detail. This is true for virtually every OS out there (even for XP in its early years), but it seems to be particularly true for Vista.

        Of course, rather than acquitting Microsoft of its design sins, this only makes Microsoft guiltier. It's obvious that Vista's system architecture has very little flexibility and resilience to different configurations, and that's perhaps its real greatest flaw.
        • My experience with customer system..

          incompatibilities (other than the widely known hardware problems) have arisen mostly from 3rd party software. Especially the smaller niche market software vendors. They seem to be a year or more behind the curve in upgrading their software for Vista.

          Of course this could be the vendor blaming problems on Vista. Anyone in the tech field knows what I'm talking about here all too well.