The much-anticipated and long-awaited beta of the first Service Pack for Microsoft Vista was yesterday released to a select group of 12 000 testers.

In a videotaped interview on Microsoft's Channel 9 site, Mike Nash, the head of Windows client operating system product management, said a later build during the release candidate period will be available to a larger group.
Computerworld reports that Nash stressed that Vista SP1 would be very different from 2004's Windows XP SP2, the last service pack Microsoft delivered. "The philosophy is very different," Nash says, referring to Vista SP1 and repeating the message other executives delivered in August when the service pack was revealed. "In XP SP2, we were creating a lot of new functionality. [Vista] SP1 is just focused on addressing the issues we've heard about," and it will not add new features or capability to the operating system, he says.
Among the changes to Vista in SP1 are several to the operating system's search functionality; those changes came out of concessions Microsoft made after Google complained to state and federal regulators who oversee the 2002 consent agreement that Microsoft struck with the US Department of Justice and several states.