Vista SP1 744 Microsoft gave a pleasant surprise over the weekend for all of the Vista SP1 testers out there. Earlier last week they provided a “refreshed” version of Vista SP1 to a group of 15,000 Beta testers who’ve been part of the SP1 program for quite awhile. A few days later Microsoft decided that they wanted more feedback, and therefore made the Vista Service Pack 1 RC Refresh available to the public.

For the curious minds: The new build number is 6.0.6001.17028 and it will show up as version 744 in the system properties.

I jumped on the download because I wanted to see if it fixed an issue I was having with Vista SP1 RC when attaching an external monitor. The first thing I had to do was uninstall Vista SP1:

Open the Programs and Features control panel and select View installed updates. In the Microsoft Windows section, right-click Service Pack for Windows (936330) and select Uninstall. Please wait one hour after uninstalling a previous version of Windows Vista SP1 before installing Windows Vista SP1 RC Refresh. The installer service needs to clean up and complete the uninstall prior to installing the RC. Failing to do this can result in installation errors when installing the RC version.

Uninstalling took about 45 minutes to complete, and then the process of reinstalling Vista SP1 took another hour or so. Make sure you set aside plenty of time for this process, because most of the time the computer is in an unusable state.

Now I don’t know for sure whether the bug that I mentioned above has been fixed, but I haven’t had it happen thusfar. It’s kind of been an intermittent problem, and I’ll have to give it a week before I know for sure.

As far as other changes go I haven’t noticed much, but in general after testing Vista SP1 I would have a hard time going back to a PC running Vista without it. Searching for files is so much faster with the Service Pack installed, and file transfers are definitely speedier. I can’t wait for the final version which should be out within the next couple months.

Important note: Installing a pre-release version of SP1 will cause the operating system to expire on June 30, 2008. An “Evaluation Copy” message will also appear on the desktop, but uninstalling the pre-release version of SP1 will remove all of these restrictions. This is just a way for Microsoft to ensure that people will install the final version when it comes out.

Download Vista SP1 RC Refresh [via Download Squad]