Vista SP1 Definitely on the Way
Microsoft has verified that there will be an SP1 for Vista, although it's released precious few details about it.
Service packs can be good and bad for Microsoft. On one hand, they fix vulnerabilities, upgrade the usefulness, efficiency or functionality of components, and sometimes add new features. On the other hand, consumers, and especially corporations, will often wait until an SP is released before upgrading to the new product, assuming that the first generation of a release isn't quite ready for prime time.
Some have even wondered if Microsoft's various Update services have made service packs obsolete. Some of that speculation has been spurred by the fact that Microsoft has been very tight-lipped about an SP1 for Windows Vista, leading some to wonder if service packs would be foregone totally.
For instance, Redmond magazine columnist Mary Jo Foley, who blogs about Microsoft for ZDNet, wrote an article discussing the conflicting signals Microsoft was sending out about SP1's existence.
Foley quoted a Microsoft executive: " 'In the past, SP1 is where we came out with tools and guidance," so that's why so many businesses tended to wait until SP1 before deploying Windows in the past, [Brad] Goldberg, [general manager of Windows client] said. But these days, "SP1 is not a relevant (deployment) milestone," Goldberg told me ... With Windows, going forward, "we are trying to plan in a more predictable way," Goldberg said. "Windows Update now gives us a vehicle to get things out that normally would have been in a service pack,' " wrote Foley.
But Microsoft has apparently decided that service packs are relevant, and verified that there will be an SP1 for Vista, although it's released precious few details about it. A Microsoft spokesperson, in an e-mail, confirmed SP1's existence. "While it's still too early to provide any firm date range for delivery, service packs are part of the traditional software lifecycle -- they're something we do for all Microsoft products as part of our commitment to continuous improvement -- and we are currently working on the first service pack for Windows Vista."
Although Microsoft wouldn't be more specific about a timetable for SP1, some hints have been dropped. Late last year, Microsoft Vice President of Server and Tools Bob Muglia stated that he expected Vista SP1 to be released about the same time as Longhorn Server (now Windows Server 2008). Not much has been said since Muglia's prediction, though.
Further bolstering the idea of SP1 is a website called the "Vista SP1 Preview and Information Center", a site unaffiliated with Microsoft that claims to have a list of more than 100 fixes that are coming in SP1.
Another blog posted a picture taken at the recent Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) that purports to be a machine with a build of SP1 on it.
In any event, Vista could use a sales boost, which the release of SP1 would likely produce. Although Microsoft has touted the 40 million Vista licenses it has sold since the desktop OS' general release on Jan. 29, those numbers are not as impressive when viewed in context, according to a report by market research firm In-Stat, which said that PC sales haven't been significantly impacted by Vista's release.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.