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Don’t hold your breath for Vista SP1

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It may have been released to manufacture (RTM) yesterday, but users expecting to load Vista service pack 1 (SP1) any day now shouldn't hold their collective breaths – the update will only be available in mid-March.

In a blog posted on www.microsoftblogs.com, the vice-president of Windows product management, Mike Nash, says that a problem with device drivers picked up by beta testers is the main reason for the delay.
"As we update our customers to SP1, we want everyone to have a great install experience," Nash says on his blog. "We are going to stage our rollout of SP1 for current Windows Vista users to be approximately concurrent with the availability of Windows Vista SP1 on new PCs and in stores. There are a couple of reasons for this. Our beta testing identified an issue with a small set of device drivers. These drivers do not follow our guidelines for driver installation and as a result, some beta participants who were using Windows Vista and updated to Service Pack 1 reported issues with these devices. Because the issue was with the way the drivers were installed and not the drivers themselves, the solution was simply to reinstall the drivers. While this worked fine for our more technical beta testers, we want to deliver a better experience for customers as we make the update broadly available.
"While we know that most customers who update from Windows Vista to SP1 will NOT be affected, our approach is to improve the experience for all our customers," says Nash. "To do this, we will begin making SP1 available through Windows Update in mid-March, giving us time to work with some of our hardware partners to make adjustments to the installation process for the affected drivers. As SP1 gets delivered through Windows Update, we will only offer it to PCs that we detect don't have any of the affected device drivers installed.  We're taking the next month or so to continue our work of identifying as many of these devices as possible."
Nash gives the following timelines for Vista SP1 availability:
*In mid-March, we will release Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Update (in English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese) and to the download center on microsoft.com. Customers who visit Windows Update can choose to install Service Pack 1. If Windows Update determines that the system has one of the drivers we know to be problematic, then Windows Update will not offer SP1. Since we know that some customers may want to update to SP1 anyhow, the download center will allow anyone who wants to install SP1 to do so.
*In mid-April, we will begin delivering Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Vista customers who have chosen to have updates downloaded automatically. That said, any system that Windows Update determines has a driver known to not update successfully will not get SP1 automatically. As updates for these drivers become available, they will be installed automatically by Windows Update, which will unblock these systems from getting Service Pack 1. The result is that more and more systems will automatically get SP1, but only when we are confident they will have a good experience.
*The remaining languages will RTM in April.