Microsoft will not give a timetable on the first major update for Windows Vista, but one of its most important partners, Intel, has named the date.
Intel's chief executive officer Paul Otellini gave the game away during a briefing on the processor manufacturer’s earnings this week.
Asked how Vista sales would impact his company's 2007 sales projections, Otellini began his answer with the standard explanation that enterprises haven't jumped to the new operating system. "Most companies will act like Intel," he said. "They're doing some pilots and testing today."
But he then named a rough release date for Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1). "But the [Vista] deployment [in enterprises] will actually happen when the Service Pack gets released in the fourth quarter time frame, probably the October-November time frame," said Otellini.
Although Microsoft has confirmed that SP1 is in the works, it has refused to name a release date or peg it to a particular quarter. That didn't change -- even after Otellini's leak.
"It's too early to provide any firm date range for SP1's delivery," the company said. "We will continue to take customer feedback from programmes like the TAP [Technology Adoption Program], and will ultimately determine an official delivery date as the service pack is nearer to completion."
There was no response to a request to confirm the accuracy of Ortellini's SP1 schedule.
Microsoft's stance on SP1, said one analyst, is incomprehensible. "I don't get that logic," said Michael Cherry, an analyst with the Directions on Microsoft research firm. "If customers want dates that they can plan around for major releases [of Windows], why wouldn't they want the same consistency and ability to plan for service packs?"
Microsoft does publish what it calls the "Windows Service Pack Road Map" on its Web site, but Vista is not represented, and future service packs for currently-supported OSes such as Windows XP are placed within a six month time slot, not a month or quarter.
"Calling that a 'road map' is an embarrassment," said Cherry. "They should be much more transparent on service packs, and that includes whether they're going to do them or not. There may be customers holding back on Vista for SP1, but the bigger story is that service packs are like everything else, and if Microsoft wants to be transparent, they need to provide a guideline as to when they'll release."