Microsoft -Refreshes' the Release Candidate for Vista SP1

The refresh has only been made available to a core group of 15,000 testers and will not be made available for download.  

A core group of 15,000 people testing Windows Vista Service Pack 1 have received the latest pre-release build of SP1, known as Windows Vista SP1 RC Refresh.

This group of beta testers includes corporate customers, consumer enthusiasts, software and hardware vendors, and others, Microsoft said in a statement released January 9.

The "Refresh" code is also not available for public download, and will not be made available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers or to the broader public.

While Microsoft is still on track to release Vista SP1 to manufacturing this quarter, it noted that "the final release date is based on quality, so we will continue to track customer and partner feedback from the beta program before setting a final date."

The Refresh comes just over a month after Microsoft made the Release Candidate for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 available to the core 15,000 testers, as well as to all MSDN and TechNet subscribers and the broader public.

"We feel very good about the fact that our current set of testers is a good distribution of different kinds of users and partners. But given the amazing variety of usage by a diverse group of people, hardware and software, we really wanted to go broader to make sure that people have a chance to test it out and give our other partners the chance to test their software and hardware on there if they haven't already done that," David Zipkin, senior product manager for Windows client, told eWEEK at that time.

The feedback Microsoft receives from testers on this release candidate will determine the future testing direction, Zipkin said.

The availability of the Release Candidate for Vista SP1 was welcomed by IT administrators, many of whom have already rolled it out or are planning to do so in the near future.

Englewood Hospitaland Medical Centerhas already downloaded the release candidate for SP1 and is running it on test machines to make sure that its internal applications are able to run, and to see if the service pack resolved some of the issues it identified, Gary Wilhelm, the hospital's business and financial systems manager, told eWeek recently.

"We have also loaded the service pack on a few laptops to test our Aventail VPN, Citrix and single sign-on solution. Rather than apply the individual hot fixes Microsoft released, we made a decision to wait for SP1," Wilhelm said.

Collegiate Housing Services, which provides housing programs to colleges, universities and post-secondary learning institutions in 27 cities throughout the United States, has not only deployed the Vista SP1 release candidate in its test lab, but also on its production IT machines to see how it behaves in the company's environment.

CHShas about 78 machines currently running Vista, and is keen to roll out the service pack, which it sees as critical as it incorporates a lot of stability and performance improvements, better battery life and sleep/hibernate stability improvements. Overall network performance improvements are also crucial, Sumeeth Evans, director of information technology at CHS, told eWEEK recently.

"There is a perception in the industry that Microsoft products are not usable until the first or second service pack is released," Evans said. "But this time around, the company delivered regular updates before the service pack release cycle to fix and update the bugs and features in both Vistaand Office 2007. It also appears that, in terms of our testing so far, that these service packs are of very good quality."