Volume Buyers to Get Vista SP1 Early

The long wait for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) got a little longer last week when Microsoft announced that it will delay broadly releasing the final code until mid-March.

That caused an uproar among some users who are impatient to get their hands on SP1 so that they can begin Vista evaluations as well as deployments. Now, Microsoft has at least partially relented.

Last Friday, the company released Vista SP1 for download by both individuals and companies who previously beta tested the service pack. This week, the company went further.

“At the end of this week we will be making the English version of Windows Vista SP1 available to volume licensing customers … Other languages will follow soon … [and] later this month, SP1 will be available to MSDN and TechNet Plus subscribers,” Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows product management, said in a posting on the Windows Vista Team Blog today.

SP1 will provide all of the hotfixes that have come out since Vista first shipped as well as improvements in performance, such as reducing the time required to do large file transfer operations. In the past decade, many IT shops have traditionally awaited the release of the first service pack for a new version of Windows before committing to large-scale deployments of the software.

The primary hold up for broadly releasing SP1 has been minor glitches involving device driver installation, basically requiring that some device drivers will need to be reinstalled after installing SP1, Nash said. Anticipating that some non-technical users might have trouble solving that problem, Microsoft decided to wait until those issues are solved before releasing SP1 to the general public.

“For broad availability, we are still planning to release [SP1] in mid-March, since we want to be sure that everyone has the smoothest experience possible,” Nash added.

Meanwhile, Microsoft also released the second “release candidate” – last stage of testing before release of a product or service pack – of Windows XP SP3, also known as XP SP3 RC2. That Release Candidate, however, only went to customers and partners who participated in the beta test for SP3.

“This release catches the build up on previously released hotfixes and responds to critical feedback from previous betas,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com. “We are targeting the first half of 2008 for the release of XP SP3, though our timing will always be based on customer feedback as a first priority,” she added.

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