I think we decided that actually the BillGates release is the real deal - there are several files in it that have build numbers lower than 6000 and it was thought they had been put in there, but actually the MSDN release seems to also contain those files so they must be meant to be in there.
The BillGates release can be patched to the final release by using a patcher on the iso file - I think the only difference is that you can't do an upgrade install using the unpatched BillGates. There's no timebomb as it's an RTM release, but if you activate it using a beta key then it will get a timebomb, and also MS will block all the beta keys at some stage so it will start to fail WGA, going into RFM after 30 days if you don’t reactivate using an RTM key. The cracks out at the moment are all the same, and involve replacing two files with the equivalent files from one of the beta releases, allowing it to activate with the beta keys.
The other release is the WinBeta release, which has both the 32 and 64 bit version on one DVD (they are on separate DVDs in the official release) - what actually gets installed seems to be the same as the BillGates release. Neither release is pre-cracked.
The files replaced from the activation cracks should not create an expiration date for Windows Vista since I believe they only contain the data necessary to validate your Product Key and generate the activation code.
Right now the KMS virtual machine is the most popular way to acomplish your goals...
That only circumvents activation though, not WGA, as your product key will be one of the leaked ones (unless you can set up the KMS to activate using the "magic key" that is integrated into the DVD, as that key seems to be deemed legit).
Although what actually happens if a VLK copy fails WGA? On a retail copy it deactivates it after 30 days and therefore dumps you in RFM until you reactivate, but with VLK you do the activation yourself anyway...maybe it would just mean you couldn't use MS Update any more?
It also doesn't get you Ultimate though; only Business or Enterprise (so far...might be possible for someone to enable the KMS activation on Ultimate, I suppose, like the thing where you can make XP Home or MCE into VLK, even though they were never officially released as such).
I've installed the Business edition with the key YFKBB-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx and then linked to a private KMS Server to active the copy,luckily I have the copy actived.
BTW:there are several private(unofficial) KMS Servers in China,and they really works.
Sorry for my poor English,hope that you'll understand what I've said.