Confusion Growing About Vista SP1 Release

There's growing confusion as to when Windows Vista SP1 is going to be released to the public, and even confusion about when it will be tested, and by whom.

Blogger Josh Phillips of Windows Connected said Microsoft asked him and others to release the news that no timetable has been set for a public beta of SP1. Phillips attributed the following statement to Microsoft:

"There will be a Windows Vista service pack and our current expectation is that a beta will be made available sometime this year. 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 providing early test builds is a standard practice that helps us incorporate customer feedback and improve the overall quality of the product."

It was expected that the first beta of SP1 would be released this week. Blogger and Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley, who also writes a column for Redmond magazine, quoted unnamed sources stating that the first beta would be released this week, with the final version released this November, close to the time that Windows Server 2008 is expected to be released to manufacturing. Foley reported that a select group of testers, not the general public, would be testing SP1.

Phillips also quoted Microsoft as stating that a public beta of SP1 will not happen "anytime soon". That leaves it up in the air as to when SP1 will be delivered, since public betas are the first concrete steps toward a product's release. As Phillips noted, "I still would like to see an early broad public beta that would give the Service Pack the exposure to hardware diversity that smaller private betas are unable to deliver."

Foley, meanwhile, accuses Microsoft of spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about SP1. "It is time to stop the misinformation, the bulk of which is coming from Microsoft right now," she blogged Thursday.

"Who said there would be a public beta of Vista SP1 this week?" Foley continued. "I've been saying Microsoft would extend a beta of Vista SP1 to a selected group of testers in mid-July, most likely this week. (Microsoft has got testers so panicked now about being fingered as sources of leaks that even if and when they do get the SP1 code, I'm doubtful anyone will dare say anything.)

"I've had no luck in getting Microsoft to provide a date for if or when there will be a public beta of SP1, either," Foley added. "Nothing but no comments. All I know is Microsoft has told some testers they are shooting to get SP1 out by November. Maybe they meant a public beta of SP1…not sure." This reporter's experience matches what Foley describes. Microsoft has been very tight-lipped about the service pack, refusing to give timelines or fixes and features in SP1.

One new feature sure to be found in SP1, however, is redesigned search functionality. In response to complaints to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Attorneys General from each state, Microsoft is opening up its desktop search capabilities to rival search companies such as Google.

It's also somewhat surprising that Microsoft isn't being more forthcoming about SP1 from a sales point of view. Corporations are, as a rule, very hesitant to upgrade to a new OS until a service pack is released. Having at least a rough timetable for the release of the first service pack would allow businesses to better plan their upgrades or migrations.

Phillips still believes, though, that SP1 will be out before 2008. "The fact that external parties are going to be testing gives me hope that the service pack will still ship this year," he wrote.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.