Sources: Windows Vista SP1 beta due this week

Microsoft is set to release a beta of Windows Vista SP1 as soon as this week, sources close the company said

Microsoft could pull the trigger on putting out a beta of the first service pack for Windows Vista any day, with a final release by November, sources close to the company said.

Microsoft has been mum about exactly what will be included in Windows Vista Service Pack 1, a rollup of updates for the OS, many of which are pushed out automatically through its Web-based update services. The company also has not said when the software will be in final release, with the latest from the company revealing only that a beta will be out sometime before the end of the year.

The WinBeta.org blog reported Tuesday in a post that Microsoft 's Windows Driver Kit (WDK) team sent out an e-mail to beta testers that a new build of the WDK was being released to them to coincide "with the recent OS beta release for Vista SP1 Preview," hinting that SP1 beta is soon to be sent to testers.

Others speculate Microsoft might release the SP1 beta Thursday, the day it will report the company's fiscal 2007 fourth quarter and year-end financial results.

In an e-mail interview Wednesday one source close to the company said he had been told by insiders that a beta of SP1 would be out by now, so an imminent release is highly likely. And another in an interview over instant messenger said that beta testers report SP1 will definitely be out this week, with a final release coming in November or December.

At Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver two weeks ago, Mike Sievert, corporate vice president of the Windows business group at Microsoft, toed the party line on Vista SP1 and said little about when it would be released or what would be in it, and hinted that Microsoft's own plans for the service pack are still in flux.

Sievert also downplayed the software's role in when some Windows users will upgrade to Vista, though it's widely known many users -- especially business and enterprise customers -- are waiting for SP1 before replacing Windows XP with Vista.

"Most companies are still in the evaluation phase," he said in an interview. "Service pack or no service pack, they're still looking at what they will deploy."

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