Microsoft is taking a lot of heat by announcing that Vista SP1 is ready, but then not making it available for the general public until some time in March. But Microsoft made the right move by delaying launch -- if SP1 were out today, plenty of people would be having very serious driver problems.
As Computerworld's Eric Lai reports, Microsoft delayed launching SP1 because of incompatibilities between the service pack and drivers on peoples' machine. Microsoft won't necessarily be fixing those drivers before launch. Instead, it is tracking down which drivers cause problems, and then ensuring that Microsoft Update, or some other method, will block SP1 from being installed on hardware with potential driver glitches.
It's clearly the right move to delay launch. So why did Microsoft announce that SP1 had gone gold so far in advance of launch? After all, Microsoft could have simply waited until March to make the announcement.
The problem is that there's no way Microsoft could have kept the finished state of SP1 secret; word was bound to leak. And once it did, the rumor mill would have gone into overtime, attributing various evil intentions to the delay.
This is yet one more instance of being damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Microsoft delayed SP1, and is taking heat for it, but it would have taken a lot more heat -- and done the wrong thing -- by rushing SP1 out the door.