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Vista Service Pack Pre-Release Version Available to Public

Those who were denied the opportunity to get the Release Candidate (RC) for the first service pack for Windows Vista last week now have their opportunity, as it's now available for public download.

RC1 for SP1 was first made available last week, but only to those with MSDN or TechNet subscriptions. It's now accessible via Windows Update.

Be prepared for some heavy slogging if you download the RC, however, as Microsoft hasn't made it easy. First, you have to uninstall any previous beta versions of SP1. Then, after the uninstall, head to lunch, because Microsoft wants you wait before installing the RC.

If you don't, bad things could happen, Microsoft warns on TechNet. "Please wait 1 hour after uninstalling a prior build before installing the RC. The installer service needs to clean up and complete the uninstall prior to installing a later build. Failing to do this can result in installation errors for the RC version."

Redmond also takes pains to remind users not to use RC1 on primary or mission-critical systems, and to back up data before the install. Those, of course, are more common-sense procedures to take before installing unfinished software.

The RC will stop working after June 30 of next year. But seeing as how most users and corporations normally upgrade pretty quickly to SP1, that shouldn't be much of a problem. In fact, a majority of IT departments wait until the first service pack to upgrade to a new product, which partially accounts for Vista's slower-than-expected uptake in the marketplace.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.