Windows Vista SP1Windows Server 2008
Microsoft has released the setup installer code for Windows Server 2008 RC1 (Release Candidate 1) and Windows Vista SP1 RC (Release Candidate) on Wednesday, two highly anticipated update and product that scheduled to be released to RTM (live) in early 2008.

According to Windows Server WebLog, Windows Sever 2008 will be released to manufacturing (RTM) or gone gold during the “Heroes Happen Here” launch event in Los Angeles on February 27 2008, which will also jointly promote Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008.

New features in Widnows Server 2008 RC1 include enhancements to Group Policy with Group Policy Preferences, formerly known as PolicyMaker Standard Edition and Policy Share Manager, addition of Client-Side Extensions for GP (Group Policy) Preferences, and down level versions will be available as a separate download for Windows XP Service Pack 2 and above, Windows Vista RTM and above, and Windows Server 2003 SP1 and above.

Download for free Windows Server 2008 RC1 from Windows Server 2008 Release Candidate Evaluation Software web page. The build version is 6001.17051.071121-2029.

User can also install Vista SP1 RC via Windows Update, or direct download the Vista SP1 RC setup installer.

Windows Vista SP1 RC meanwhile is currently released via Microsoft Connect on Wednesday, and access to RC bits will make available to subscribers of TechNet and MDSN from Thursday. General public will have to wait till next week in order to download Vista SP1 RC via Microsoft Download Center, according to Vista Team Blog.

New features and changes to the Vista SP1 RC since the betas and the RC1 Preview included:

  1. Reduce size of the standalone installers significantly. For example, the standalone installer packages consisting of all 36 languages (x86 and x64 chip architectures) are smaller by over 50%. The standalone installer packages consisting of just the 5 languages (again, x86 and x64) slated for initial release are more than 30% smaller in size.
  2. The required amount of disc space for SP1 installation has also decreased significantly. Furthermore, with the RC, if more space is required to install SP1, an error message will now display exactly how much space is needed to complete the installation.
  3. Previous SP1 versions left behind a directory of files that wasn’t needed after installation and occupied about 1GB of space; the RC includes automatic disk clean-up to remove this directory.
  4. Installation reliability has been improved based on bug reports and error codes reported from Windows Update (thanks, Beta testers!). Testing shows that these improvements have significantly increased the proportion of successful installations of the RC.
  5. We’ve improved the user experience of installing SP1 via Windows Update. During the Beta release, users installed without much guidance from Windows Update. The RC now contains a series of screens with detailed information on SP1.

With the more frequent release of beta and RC testing code, Microsoft is believed to be on schedule to release final Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1 in the next one or two months. The standalone installer of Windows Vista SP1 RC with all languages MUI has the size of 548.53 MB for 32-bit editions, while x64 (64-bit) size is 878.52 MB.

Update: Windows Vista SP1 RC Refresh has been released.