Oops. Intel CEO Gives Away Vista SP Release Date

In the course of Tuesday’s earnings conference call with press and analysts, Intel’s CEO inadvertently confirmed what Microsoft would not: that there is a service pack coming for Vista later this year.

While discussing its projections, Paul Otellini was asked where Vista fits in to Intel’s  sales projections for the year. Otellini responded that he felt most firms were testing it out now and he expected Vista deployment will begin to take place in earnest in the fourth quarter, “When the service pack for Vista comes out around October/November.”

As Homer Simpson would say, d’oh!

No service pack is currently listed on Microsoft’s service pack roadmap.

Some analysts and Microsoft watchers have said they expect a service pack later this year to coincide with the release of Longhorn server, but nothing is official.

They believe a service pack will be necessary not so much to fix things as to bring Vista up to technical parity with Longhorn Server, which will have a number of new technologies, including improved networking, client management and a self-repairing file system.

A Microsoft spokesperson said Microsoft expects Windows Vista SP1 will be a standard service pack that will include any necessary security updates and hotfixes, as well as a limited number of additional changes.

“For now, it’s too early to provide any firm date range for SP1’s delivery. We will continue to take customer feedback from programs like the TAP, and will ultimately determine an official delivery date as the service pack is nearer to completion,” added the spokesperson.

One site claims to offer a preview of the Vista Service Pack 1 contents, but Microsoft has made it clear in a blog posting that this site is not affiliated with Microsoft. The site also has ads by Google AdSense.

Analyst Greg DeMichillie of Directions on Microsoft thinks Microsoft is being foolish for not laying out a service pack roadmap. “They really don’t want people to get the impression that Vista is this problem-filled operating system, and I can understand that. But corporations want clarity more than anything else,” he told internetnews.com. “They just want to know what’s coming in the next 12 months. It would be good for Microsoft to give IT a date so they can do their planning.”

DeMichillie acknowledges there are a few minor issues in Vista, but no showstoppers as yet. He is also worried about the ever-growing delay in a third service pack for Windows XP, which is now scheduled for the first half of 2008.

“That date is so late that they might end up doing what they did with Windows 2000, where the last service pack was a rollup. It just shows XP is a lower priority than Longhorn and Vista,” he said.

A “rollup” would be just a collection of all of the fixes that have come out since Service Pack two, which is numerous after three years. Service Pack 2 for Windows XP came out in 2004. But as a rollup, Microsoft would not test it as thoroughly as an official service pack.

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