The review from news.com mentions several problems with RC2 that seem like steps backwards from RC1.
That may actually be the case, since, as far as I understand it, RC2 is built from what’s called the “RTM branch” in the source control system Microsoft uses to keep their code neat and orderly.
The thing about the way Microsoft uses source control is that they create “branches” of source code at certain points in time. This is documented at http://www.usenix.org/events/usenix-win2000/invitedtalks/lucovsky.ppt. Granted, this presentation refers to Windows 2000, but I doubt the principles have changed much.
The point that I want to make is that the RC2 source code (from the “RTM branch”, according to http://www.istartedsomething.com/20060901/windows-vista-beta-features-vs-content/) may have been branched off from the main trunk some time after the RC1 branch, but may not have had some of the RC1 code integrated back into it. Some code from the RC1 branch may not make it into the RTM branch at all, if it’s judged to be of dubious quality.
Judging by the fact that what Microsoft terms the “RTM branch” started with build numbers at 5700, and that RC2 has a build number of 5744, calling it “RC2″ is a bit of a misnomer, really. It would more accurately be called an “RTM preview”, but since lots of folks have been screaming for an “RC2″, that’s what Microsoft probably decided to give them.
It would be interesting to hear some Microsoft folks comment on that news.com review or my little commentary here.