Microsoft’s move to delay the first Windows Vista service pack by six weeks is likely to have been driven by a desire to appease business customers, even if it seems the decision was grounded in fear of further alienating consumers. The delay is due to problems the service pack can cause to existing drivers on PCs.
Companies typically fork out much more money per head to Microsoft than an individual consumer, through purchases of volume licenses, enterprise support contracts and Software Assurance, so they are important for Microsoft to please. They also expect more.
"It would be catastrophic for the future of Windows Vista if the service pack itself turned out to have major issues as well," said Lee Nicholls, global solutions director for Getronics NV, the Dutch corporate systems integrator.
Sumeeth Evans, IT director at Collegiate Housing Services, said: "I would prefer Microsoft iron out the driver issues. We are willing to wait for 6 weeks since most of our non-SP1 machines do perform pretty well." The firm rolled out Vista to its 78 employees last year.
Microsoft said that most of the drivers that break as a result of the service pack can be fixed by reinstalling them. That might be easy for an individual, but daunting to a company with scattered offices and numerous employees.
If consumers have seemed slow to move to Vista, corporations have been even slower. That has as much to do with companies' satisfaction with XP as it does with their built-in conservatism.
SP1 remains a popular milestone, a signal of quality that can spur them to start an upgrade from Windows XP to Vista.
"We still won't see a huge boom in deployment right away, but it will at least spur plenty of companies into beginning their planning and adoption exercises," Nicholls said.
Pre-announcing SP1 thus helps spur corporations to start planning their Vista deployments. At the same time, a six-week delay in SP1's actual arrival will not matter to most companies.
IT consulting firm Avanade has been helping some large corporate clients plan for the Vista upgrade for about a year, according to Ryan McCune, solutions director at the firm. "In the big picture, this timing doesn't significantly affect our clients' deployment strategies or schedules," he said.