Quick, ladies and germs! Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 is now available as a free download from Microsoft.com. At the very least, Vista RC1 is a free, flawed but powerful Windows operating system that will power any PC or Boot Camp’d Intel Mac from now through June 1, 2007. More importantly, this is your chance to try out the next generation of Windows and see if you find upgrading worth it when Vista sells for $100-200 in January, and help make the operating system better by submitting bugs.
Windows Vista RC1, also known as Build 5600, is available as a 2.584 gigabyte download for 32-bit systems, and a 3.677 gigabyte download for 64-bit computers. Be sure to have around ten gigabytes of free hard drive space on your C: partition. You will need a product key from Windows Vista Beta 2, otherwise the beta will expire after 14 days of use. Microsoft will probably be making keys available soon for those who don’t have one, so you could probably download now and hold onto your DVD until you get a key.
More at Neowin. Also, ATI and Nvidia have released new Vista RC1 video drivers, just in time for this new build. I hope they’re improved, since the old ATI Beta 2 drivers were a mess. Everytime I shut my laptop lid, the computer would act like I was unplugging an external device, a huge annoyance that ended in a bluescreen a few times.
Todd Bishop looks at the schedule Microsoft will have to meet to get Vista to RTM on schedule, and concludes that, if Vista is more like XP, Microsoft will make it, but if it is similar to Windows 2000, they might need an extra month or three.