Computer Makers Get First Dibs on Vista SP1

Microsoft announced the first stage in the launch of its first service pack (SP1) for the Windows Vista operating system (OS) Monday.

The service pack — filled with performance, compatibility and reliability updates for versions in English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese — was released to manufacturing a move that enables Microsoft’s OEM partners to start building new PCs running Vista with SP1 pre-installed, the company said.

Let the Deployment Begin

Microsoft’s release of the first Vista service pack is a milestone, according to the company, because many businesses and larger enterprises wait for the OS update before making the switch to a new operating system. Now that the service pack has been put through its paces by a bevy of beta testers, many IT heads and administrators may soon begin making plans to deploy the software on their corporate machines.

“It is a milestone because Microsoft has trained users to wait for the first service pack before they consider upgrading,” Michael Cherry, lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft, told TechNewsWorld. “[The release is noteworthy because] it will be taken by many customers as a signal that the code is stable enough to evaluate and potentially deploy.”

While Microsoft acknowledged that Vista had some issues in terms of compatibility, performance and reliability — many of which have been addressed in the new service pack — Cherry wonders why they weren’t resolved before the initial release of Vista.

“It appears that the service pack will address some of the performance and reliability issues, but the question remains, why did they ship Vista in the first place with such problems as incredibly slow file copies and problems waking from sleep? Why weren’t such problems found and fixed prior to the release of the product in the first place?” he said.

Stage Two: Current Users

While Microsoft has rolled out Vista SP1 to computer makers, consumers already running the OS will have to wait another month to two before they are granted access to the update. Microsoft will release Vista SP1 to Windows Update and to its download center in English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese sometime in mid-March.

Vista users can go to Windows Update to install the service pack; however, if the software finds that the system has “one of the drivers we know to be problematic,” then the update will not be offered. Consumers determined to download SP1 regardless can do so from Microsoft’s download center.

Microsoft has set a mid-April deadline to being updating machines currently running Vista for users who have opted to receive automatic updates from the software maker. Once again, however, if a system has an unrecognized driver, the update will not be installed automatically. As updates for problem drivers become available and are installed the download will be unblocked and the service pack will be installed, according to Microsoft.

“The result is that more and more systems will automatically get SP1, but only when we are confident they will have a good experience,” explained Mike Nash, vice president of Windows Product Management Team.

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