Service Pack 1 RC1 for Windows Vista available for general download
Microsoft has now released Release Candidate 1 of Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista for general download. Anyone can now take a look at the test version of the bug fix collection for the current version of Microsoft's operating system, even those who aren't registered beta testers or MSDN or Technet members.
The primary purpose of this Service Pack is to correct known flaws. However, Microsoft also steps up its action against the unlicensed use of Windows. The Service Pack closes two holes which have so far allowed Vista to be used without a valid license. Should one of the constantly recurring WGA checks of the installation key identify what Microsoft considers an illegal key, Vista including SP1 will now announce this more often and more directly. On the other hand - probably following pressure from large corporate customers -, Microsoft expands the "reduced functionality mode" Vista has so far entered when the WGA check returns an illegal license key. Large companies particularly expressed concerns that important systems could go on strike because of bugs or attacks on, for example, authentication servers. The reality of these concerns was confirmed by the WGA server failure which followed the installation of a flawed update in August.
In Service Pack 1, Microsoft also replaces various code segments with those of the imminent Windows Server 2008 to facilitate patch management. In response to a complaint by Google, SP1 also modifies the search function. Release Candidate 1 of Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista for x86 and x64 systems is available for download.
A Technet article gives an overview of Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista. Another article informs about the details. It also specifies the various package sizes for the individual distribution channels. The bug fixes and security updates incorporated in Release Candidate 1 of the Service Pack are listed separately by Microsoft. The Release Notes contain a list of all the information materials and tools available for Service Pack 1. These include the Blocker tool, which has now been released and allows administrators to delay the installation of Service Packs through Windows Update in corporate networks. It works with Service Pack 2 for Windows Server 2003 (maximum delay until March 2008) as well as Service Pack 3 for Windows XP and Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista (maximum delay 12 months after the release of the final version of each Service Pack).