Vista SP1: You oughta know beta

"At Microsoft, quality is job SP1."

Cringester and book author John Hedtke came up with that little gem, as pithy as any real Microsoft slogan and far more accurate. We may finally have a chance to test it out, now that Microsoft has released the schedule for Vista's Service Pack 1.

(What does it say about a company when it takes six months for it to release the schedule of when it will release the beta of the fix to the operating system it took more than five years to build? More and more, new Microsoft operating systems resemble massive public works projects, with endless schedule setbacks, cost overruns, and diminished expectations. The Big Dig, Part Deux.)

Unlike the Vista beta program, which involved literally millions of guinea -- err, volunteer testers, the SP1 beta distribution will be more limited. Even Microsoft Press author Ed Bott can't get his hands on one, though he has a thorough inventory of what's in it on his blog. The rest of us mere mortals will have to wait til some time in the new year.

And what exactly will be in it? Lots of bug fixes and performance tweaks, a few adjustments to its desktop search app to assuage Google, but no breathtaking new features.

Here's my favorite bit from the IDG news story about the release:

Vista SP1 will not break any applications already running on the OS. "Anything that works on Vista is going to keep on working on SP1," says David Zipkin, senior product manager for Microsoft.

Terrific. Now how about all the apps and drivers that don't work on Vista? There are thousands of businesses still buying machines with XP installed (or downgrading their Vista machines after purchase). That's what they're waiting for. And they're all going to have to wait a little longer -- sometime in Q1 2008, if Microsoft holds to this schedule. But I wouldn't beta on it.

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Robert X. Cringely

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