I had a mail overnight from the Microsoft Connect service saying that as registered user Vista SP1 Release candidate is now available for download for suitably registered customers.
It doesn't seem to be on the technet site at the moment. In any event the news is out that we've reached that milestone.
*** UPDATE *** SP1 RC is now on the Technet site. I was told it would go onto technet and MSDN together. I can't check MSDN, but I'd expect it to be there too.
I also saw a press release yesterday about the launch of Server 2008, which contains the nearest thing to naming a release date.
Windows Server 2008, which is scheduled to release to manufacturing (RTM) by the Feb. 27 launch event, reached the RC1 milestone today and is available to customers for download at http://www.microsoft.com/ws08eval.
That's it.. go and download it! Apparently 1.8 Million people already have tried the earlier builds.
It's widely understood that some of the stuff in Vista SP1 is linked to Server 2008, so they should ship pretty much together, but exactly when each of the ships is still to be decided. The launch event is the big fanfare thing which has to be booked months in advance. Release to Manufacturing happens when the product is deemed ready, and if you're looking to buy the product, the date it appears on the price list / in the shops is different again.
I got grumbled at for talking to much about Virtualization futures, so to prove I never learn ... the RC0 and RC1 builds of Server 2008 contain the same preview code for Virtualization. Hyper-V will go into beta at the release of Server 2008 and it will release with 180 days. We've been pretty clear about this for months. That doesn't give us much of a date for the release though - we might RTM server 2008 as soon as we get back from the Holiday season, and within 180 days could mean "the very next day" - theoretically at least - or we might not release Server 2008 until Feb 27th (it could even slip from that schedule) and Hyper-V might need the full 180 days. So its release could fall anywhere between January and August. I have nothing to indicate where in these ranges it will come [note. This isn't a "know but can't say", but a "really don't know"]. It's stating the obvious to say that System Center Virtual Machine Manager wants to support Hyper-V as soon as possible after it launches, but how soon they can finish their product is one unknown, when Hyper-V is a second unknown, so predicting the gap is doing algebra with no knowns.