A public beta of Windows Vista SP1 is expected sometime near the moment Microsoft will make available the first Release Candidate for the service pack, but the company has offered no timetable in this sense. The final version of Vista SP1 is currently planned for launch in the first quarter of 2008, following the release of Windows Server 2008, at the end of February. In this context, in excess of 70 million Vista users are locked out of the beta testing process of Vista SP1. The Beta Build 6001.16659 of the service pack has been leaked to peer-to-peer file sharing networks but downloading the refresh as a torrent is not even close to an option. However, a hack that will permit users to grab the official Vista SP1 Beta Build 6001.16659 right from the Microsoft Windows Updates server, is.
All you have to do is a little registry hack, as exemplified by GHacks. Open a notepad file and copy paste the following code. Make sure to save the file with a name similar to the one that follows: WindowsVistaSP1_Beta_Hack.cmd. In the file format area of the dialog box do not select .txt but opt for All Files instead.
reg add HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionWindowsUpdateVistaSp1 /v Beta1 /t REG_SZ /d a2c3c14a-9586-4d37-9aaa-79fbd64069d2 /f
reg add HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREWow6432NodeMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionWindowsUpdateVistaSP1 /v Beta1 /t REG_SZ /d a2c3c14a-9586-4d37-9aaa-79fbd64069d2 /f
echo Vista SP1 registry key has been set. Please check for updates in Windows Update.
Then navigate to the location where you saved the file and right click it in order to select the Run as administrator from the contextual menu that will pop up. In this manner you will launch the registry hack with administrative privileges, otherwise the changes that the file is designed to introduce to the Windows Vista registry will fail. Microsoft is delivering the first beta for Windows Vista SP1 through the Windows Update infrastructure and the registry hack will render WU to display the refresh as available for download.
Following the execution of the WindowsVistaSP1_Beta_Hack.cmd and the associated registry alterations, run Windows Update in Vista. You will come across update KB935509 and you have to download and install it. After reboot make your way to Windows Update again and this time grab and deploy update KB937287. After yet another restart you will be able to find a third update - KB938371. The next time you boot into your copy of Vista and access Windows Update you will be able to find Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Beta.