Microsoft finally offers SP1 RC for Vista as a public download. You can download it as standalone package or via Windows Update. It seems as if Microsoft just published that little trick that could be found on some blogs for some days now. Supposedly, this was just the way, the more privileged beta testers used to get this download. It changes some registry keys which lets Windows Update recognize if your computer is a valid target for this service pack.

These are the links to download SP1 RC:

I recommend reading the instructions on the download page. It might save you some time, if things don't work out smoothly as expected. I wonder why it is called "Service Pack 1 RC" and not RC1 as with the beta of Service Pack 3 for Windows XP? Does this mean that there will be no Vista SP1 RC2?

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