Microsoft this week released a pair of Windows Vista updates that had leaked onto the internet at the end of July, but the company didn't say when it will begin pushing them to users via Windows Update.
One of the updates is pegged as a performance booster for the new operating system, while the other addresses reliability issues. They include a long list of nonsecurity bug fixes, including one to improve the speed of Vista's wake-from-hibernation function and another that's designed to more quickly calculate the time needed to copy or move large directories.
In addition, several fixes are intended to resolve compatibility glitches between the operating system and third-party video drivers.
A Microsoft spokeswoman said the updates will become available through Windows Update, the software vendor's automated patching service, "at a later date."
When the previews of the updates found their way onto the internet, there was speculation that they were related to the upcoming Vista Service Pack 1 and that they might even be harbingers of SP1's release.
That doesn't appear to be the case, but Microsoft confirmed that it has released early code for both Vista SP1 and the long-delayed Windows XP Service Pack 3 to small, invitation-only groups of testers.
So far, Microsoft has committed only to providing a beta release of Vista SP1 sometime this year while consistently downplaying the service pack's importance. However, many companies appear to be waiting for SP1 before deploying the new operating system.
Samir Bhavnani, an analyst at NPD Group's Current Analysis West unit in San Diego, said that many of Microsoft's large corporate customers likely won't shift to Vista for years. But SP1 is an important step in the process of spurring users to upgrade, Bhavnani added. "SP1 will get a lot more businesses to adopt Vista than the version that exists today," he predicted.
Windows XP SP3 already has a tortured history. Last October, Microsoft delayed SP3's release until the first half of 2008 - which would be more than a year after Vista's launch and about three and a half years after XP SP2 became available. And last week, the software vendor described even the 2008 release date for SP3 as "preliminary."