Vista SP1 'on schedule' for March RTM

With a major launch event next month serving as an unmovable anchor for Microsoft at this point, the ancillary launches for Vista Service Pack 1 and XP SP3 would probably raise suspicion if they were delayed.

A group of 15,000 private beta testers received what's being called "RC Refresh 2" of the release candidate for Windows Vista Service Pack 1, Microsoft confirmed to BetaNews this morning. Numbers for the actual release candidate or the beta number, judging from Microsoft's recent correspondence with us, are no longer being used, which could lead some to believe that this may not be the final "refresh" coming down the pike.

Nonetheless, there appears to be no more room for the company to open the beta window further.

"We are still on schedule to deliver SP1 RTM in Q1 CY08 [the first quarter of calendar year 2008]," a Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews this morning. "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."

Yesterday's release follows one day after an "RC Refresh 2" of Windows XP Service Pack 3 was given to beta participants who had already signed up for the program via Microsoft's Connect service. There's more wiggle room for that program, we're told, and the release timeframe for XP SP3 remains the first half of this year (read: June). "Though our timing will always be based on customer feedback as a first priority," the spokesperson told us.

Microsoft declined to provide change logs that would detail precisely what new or revised features either "Refresh 2" contains.

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