Microsoft has finished the Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), but users will have to wait for at least another six weeks for the update.
"We are excited to announce that we have released Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista to manufacturing (RTM) for our first set of languages," Mike Nash, vice president of Windows product management, said in a post to Microsoft's official Vista blog on 4 February.
Microsoft uses RTM, or "release to manufacturing," to designate the stage where code has been completed and is moving into duplication and distribution.
But while the long-anticipated service pack - a massive update that will run as large as 550MB in a stand-alone installer that includes all 36 supported languages - was signed off on by the company Monday, users won't get a crack at it until mid-March at the earliest, said Nash.
"In mid-March, we will release Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Update and to the download centre on Microsoft.com," Nash said, adding that it will then be an optional download, not an automatic one. Only a month later, in mid-April, will users who have set Vista to automatically download and install high-priority updates will receive the service pack, he said.
Even that is not guaranteed. "Our beta testing identified an issue with a small set of device drivers," said Nash. "These drivers do not follow our guidelines for driver installation and as a result, some beta participants who were using Windows Vista and updated to Service Pack 1 reported issues with these devices."
Nash did not identify the drivers or the hardware manufacturers responsible for crafting them.
The problem is serious enough that users whose PCs have installed the drivers will not be offered SP1 through Windows Update. The update mechanism, in fact, will sniff out the drivers and then block machines with them from seeing or receiving SP1. "As SP1 gets delivered through Windows Update, we will only offer it to PCs that we detect don't have any of the affected device drivers installed," said Nash.
Microsoft is taking the next month to identify as many of the problematic drivers as possible, noted Nash.
Vista SP1 has been in testing since August 2007, when Microsoft finally confirmed that it would produce a service pack.