With Vista SP1 in the pipeline, is OS's future rosy?

Depending on who you are, the release of Vista Service Pack 1 may be a source of frustration or a cause for excitement.


On 11 February, Microsoft followed up last week's announcement on 4 February of Windows Vista SP1 release to manufacturing with clarifications on who gets SP1 and when.

According to Mike Nash, vice president of Windows product management of Microsoft:

    • Beta testers got SP1 last Friday.
    • The English version of SP1 will be made available to enterprise customers who get their software via Microsoft's Volume Licensing program (soon followed by other languages).
    • MSDN and TechNet Plus subscribers will get SP1 later this month. The general public will get SP1 in mid-March.

Vista customers will have to wait for SP1 while Microsoft fixes some problems with software drivers for hardware devices. Some hardware devices "may not function properly after the Windows Vista-based PC they are installed on is updated to SP1," writes Nash. "This is an issue with the way the device drivers were re-installed during the SP1 update process, not with the drivers themselves."

Over the past two weeks, the blogosphere has been in an uproar over what some users see as an inexcusable delay. For example, a typical reaction to SP1's not-yet-availability to TechNet and MSDN subscribers is reflected by this reader's comment: "IT personnel and developers already have a hard enough time testing compatibility with new versions of Windows and new service packs without you artificially delaying things. You are making us look bad and making yourselves look bad."

Don Leatham, direction of solutions strategy with Lumension Security, whose company's patch management software was made Vista-compatible last summer, has a different take. With the massive number of customers to support, he says, Microsoft must make sure that support is in place for its software. If Microsoft released SP1 without that support, people would be "screaming for support," he says, adding that when it comes to releasing software sooner or not, the vendor is "darned if they do and darned if they don't."

Nash responded to the outcry from many users protesting the delayed public release by reassuring that "Windows Vista SP1 is final" and there are no plans to change code. Any perceived delay comes from the fact that Microsoft needs time to work with manufacturers of device drivers to get the drivers and install programs updated.

Martin Resnick, director of operations technology at Norman's Nursery, completed a Vista implementation last year. He's looking forward to SP1 but says, "I'd rather it get delayed and done properly than have to deal with bugs."

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