Now is the time and the time is now: let's talk about Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1). Much has been made of what will or will not be included in SP1 and when it will be released (some accurate, some otherwise). I'm here to set the story straight: we're in the process of developing and deploying a Beta version of SP1. This post will describe for you what to expect from that effort and how you can be involved in the process.
First, a note on service packs. As you are aware, service packs are part of our traditional software lifecycle; they're something we do for most major products as a commitment to continuous improvement. But, the servicing situation has changed with the advent of Windows Vista, as we no longer rely solely on service packs as the main vehicle used to deploy system fixes and improvements. The Windows Update online service is one new way to deliver many OS improvements. For example, yesterday in advance of SP1 we released via Windows Update two separate improvements to Windows Vista's reliability and performance. We did this prior to SP1 in lieu of requiring customers to wait for these fixes to be rolled into a single service pack. Beyond this, we improve the Windows Vista experience by continuing to work closely with software partners to ensure application compatibility. We likewise align efforts with partners on the hardware side of the business to broaden the range of devices that work with Windows Vista and to constantly improve device driver quality.
What is SP1? What is it not?
In addition to updates we've previously released, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues we've identified via customer feedback, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards. SP1 also makes additional improvements to the IT administration experience. We didn't design SP1 as a vehicle for releasing new features; however, some existing components do gain enhanced functionality in SP1.
More information on what's included in SP1 can be found in the detailed white paper.
When can I get my hands on the Beta of SP1?
A Beta release of Windows Vista SP1 is slated for availability in the next few weeks. A small group of testers has been putting a preview of the SP1 Beta through its paces to help prepare for broader release. We made the choice to start with a very small group of testers because we think it's better for both our customers and for Microsoft to keep the beta program small at the start.
A later pre-release of SP1 will be available to a larger group of testers via MSDN and TechNet subscribers.
And what about SP1 itself -- when will that be available?
We're targeting releasing SP1 to manufacturing in the first quarter of 2008, but as always, we're first and foremost focused on delivering a high-quality release, so we'll determine the exact release date of SP1 after we have reached that quality bar. (FYI, in case you didn't already know: the Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 engineering efforts are aligned, so the Server team also said on their blog today that they are targeting the first quarter of 2008 for their release to manufacturing.)