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Tuesday, 15 January 2008 09:28

Microsoft opens revamped Vista SP1 RC to the masses

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Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Release Candidate Refresh has been opened to the public after a short period during which it was restricted to a relatively small group of outside testers.

The name is curious - wouldn't Release Candidate 2 be more appropriate? - but one thing that remains from the original Release Candidate (let's call it RC1) that appeared about a month ago is a tedious installation process.

Not surprisingly, you have to uninstall RC1 if it's already on the computer - SP1 is destined to install over Vista as originally distributed and patched (three updates are required by SP1), so that's no big deal. Well, it wouldn't be if you weren't asked to "wait one hour after uninstalling a previous version of Windows Vista SP1 before installing Windows Vista SP1 RC Refresh. The installer service needs to clean up and complete the uninstall prior to installing the RC. Failing to do this can result in installation errors when installing the RC version." At least they warn you.

Bear in mind you'll have to go through this all again. the Refresh will need to be removed before installing the final SP1, or on or before June 30, 2008 when the Refresh release times out so you can revert to the original version of Vista.

The Refresh is being delivered through Windows Update, but will only be available on systems that have run a script setting a registry key that permits the installation of the SP1 Refresh.

But as with RC1, installing the Refresh is a time-consuming affair. If left to install automatically, it may be "several days" before the software is ready to be installed. You can short-circuit the process and manually force Windows Update to fetch all the needed items in succession, waiting up to 15 minutes between each iteration.

Still, that's the price you pay for being on the bleeding edge.

If your job requires you to evaluate SP1, you'll probably just reimage the testbed PC when you've finished. If you just want the bragging rights that come from running the latest prerelease software, then battling through the process is part of the fun - if it wasn't so difficult, everyone would do it.

Now there's a thought: has Microsoft deliberately included obstacles to discourage most of us from installing anything but the final SP1?

Take the hint - unless you know you should be installing SP1 (that is, you're among the "individuals, organizations, and technical enthusiasts who are comfortable evaluating pre-release software"), steer well clear for now. And if you are an individual that's got Vista running nicely, why risk losing that? Some of my colleagues would love to be in your shoes.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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