This just in: Platforms and Services Co-President Jim Allchin has just now posted an announcement that RC1 is complete on the TechBeta/TAP site (note that it's password-protected). We’re reproducing the text here so that you all can see his comments. As per usual, we’re initially rolling out the code to the TechBeta and TAP programs alone, while MSDN and TechNet subscribers will be offered access next week.
To the TechBeta community:
It’s official — Windows Vista RC1 is done!
We could not have achieved this milestone without your support. The quantity and quality of feedback and data we received from you has been essential to helping us progress. Thus we wanted you to be the first customers outside of Microsoft to get access to the bits. Next week, a broader set of technical customers will get them via MSDN and TechNet. But you’re the first! We wanted to get it into your hands asap so you can start giving us feedback right away.
You’ll notice a lot of improvements since Beta 2. We’ve made some UI adjustments, added more device drivers, and enhanced performance. We’re not done yet, however — quality will continue to improve. We’ll keep plugging away on application compatibility, as well as fit and finish, until RTM. If you are an ISV, RC1 is the build you should use for certifying your application.
The operating system is in great shape with RC1, but there’s still a lot of testing to do. You’ve come through for us so far, and I’m asking you to once again put the pedal to the metal and send us feedback. Windows Vista is going to touch hundreds of millions of lives all around the world. Thanks for everything you’re doing to help us give them the best experience possible.
As you can see from Jim's words above, if you're a TechBeta or TAP participant, RC1 is now available to you! Soon it will be made available to those of you outside those programs who want to test it. I'll have word on that next week, so watch this space.