Microsoft finalises Vista SP1 code for mid-March release

Microsoft has released Windows Vista SP1 to manufacturing, but customers won't get the code until mid-March.

Microsoft has finalized the code for the first service pack for Windows Vista, but won't release the code via its update services to customers until mid-March, the company said this week. Moreover, some devices may not work with the initial version of the software because of driver issues that continue to plague the OS..

According to a post on the Windows Vista blog by Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows product management, Microsoft will release Vista Service Pack 1 in English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese to Windows Update and to the download center on Microsoft's Web site beginning in mid-March. In mid-April, the software will be available in those languages to anyone who has chosen not to download it. Microsoft will follow with the remaining language releases of Vista SP1 in April.

In the post, Nash said Microsoft is holding off on immediately releasing the code for SP1 until hardware vendors have delivered PCs with Windows Vista SP1 installed to retail stores to give those vendors time to correct problems with some device drivers that beta testers discovered during the software's evaluation process.

When installing SP1, some device drivers did not correctly follow the automatic instructions, so devices associated with them did not work correctly, according to the post. Microsoft expects hardware vendors to correct these issues before releasing PCs with the service pack installed. The company will not let customers install SP1 via automatic update if their PCs won't install the drivers correctly. However, customers can go to Microsoft's download center to obtain the software if they want to.

In his post, Nash said that most Vista users will not be affected by the device driver issue, but Microsoft is being cautious about the release of SP1 to "improve the experience for all customers."

However, some comments about Nash's blog entry show that some Windows users are eager to get their hands on the software, so are none too thrilled with the delay in SP1's release to manufacturing and release to customers.

"So it's done ... but we won't be able to actually get it for another six weeks? That [is] incredibly frustrating," wrote one user called "freibooter."

Another Windows user called "Hurricane Andrew" said the release of SP1 to manufacturing was "great news," but also expressed displeasure at the delay.

"Just wish we could get our hands on it earlier, " he said. "Patience has never been one of my strong points."

There were hints that Microsoft was nearing the final code for SP1 in the last several weeks, as the company offered two refreshes for the first release candidate, a sign that the software was nearing completion. Many believe the SP1 milestone is the one that will bring about a new wave of adoption for Vista, especially among business customers that have been awaiting the service pack's release before updating employee desktops.

The combination of SP1 and Windows Server 2008 is expected to bode well for Vista adoption in the enterprise and medium-sized business sectors. Microsoft said Monday that it also has released Windows Server 2008 to manufacturing. That product and the release of Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 will be featured in an official launch event in Los Angeles at the end of the month; however, while the new version of Visual Studio is available, SQL Server will not ship until the third quarter.

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