Vista SP Slips, But IE 8 News is More Promising

One step forward, one step back at Redmond. Microsoft appears to have a release candidate in the works for Internet Explorer 8, but the second service pack for Vista is going to be about one month later than planned.

Officially, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) would not comment on the status of IE 8. It has had one public beta release, back in March 2008. The only future builds released since then have come with Windows 7, first the pre-beta released at PDC and WinHEC last October/November, and then in the official beta released at the beginning of the month.

However, hint of an impending RC release came from an inadvertent blog post by Frank Olivier, UX and Compatibility program manager at Microsoft. In discussing how IE 8 would avoid a bug that popped up in the new White House Web page, he referred to a release candidate “we’re about to release.”

He also informed readers that due to conflicts in release schedules, IE8 RC1 will not install on the current Windows 7 beta build (build 7000). RC1 will initially be offered to Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems.

Meanwhile, the Asian news site TechARP, which has a fairly good track record for accuracy, reported that the second service pack for Vista has been delayed for a month. SP2 for the maligned operating system is currently in beta test, with release candidates planned for February and an April release.

Microsoft now is planning for a “release candidate escrow build” in February, with the release candidate a month later and the final code in the second quarter. An escrow build means, according to TechARP, that code development has ceased as developers and beta testers hunt for recall-class bugs.

It went on to say “The escrow code is considered the release-to-manufacturing code,” which is unusual, as release candidate code should come before RTM code.

Regardless of which comes first, Microsoft would only say RTM is in the second quarter of this year. “Microsoft is targeting a Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2 delivery in Q2 2009. As always, the final release date is based on quality and we will track customer and partner feedback from the beta program before setting a final date for distribution,” the company said in a statement e-mailed to

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