Microsoft Corp. yesterday announced that it had wrapped up work on Windows Vista Service Pack 2 but said it could be months before users get their hands on the upgrade to the problem-plagued operating system.
Microsoft shifted Vista SP2 to what it calls "release to manufacturing," or RTM, meaning the developers have signed off on the service pack and the company has moved it into duplication and toward distribution.
But it's not yet available to current Vista users or even to paying subscribers of the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet services, which target developers and IT professionals, respectively. MSND and TechNet users are typically handed software builds, including RTM editions, before the general public.
Although a page on TechNet trumpeted Vista SP2's completion, as well as that of its server sibling, Windows Server 2008 SP2, the software has not been posted to either TechNet or MSDN, which has confused subscribers.
"This page states that the final Vista SP2 is out for MSDN and TechNet," said one subscriber in the TechNet forum. "When I go to the listed link for MSDN, the download for (final) SP2 is nowhere to be found. Anyone know the link?"
When asked about Vista SP2's status on TechNet and MSDN, a Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed that it is not yet available to subscribers. "Windows Vista SP2 RTM is available only to OEMs at this time," she said. She had no additional information about when TechNet and MSDN users would be able to download SP2.
Others will have to wait even longer, although the timetable is muddy at best. In an entry posted to its Windows Vista blog, Microsoft said, "We expect Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2 to be publicly available in Q2 2009." That would place a general public release before the end of June.
A different blog, however, was more vague about a delivery date. "Consumers with Windows Vista SP1 don't need to do anything special to get SP2; simply turn on Windows Update, and sometime during the coming months, your computer will download and install SP2," said Celine Allee, a director in the Windows client IT team, on the Springboard Series site.
Today, Allee's message was edited, and the reference to Vista SP2 and Windows Update was deleted. When asked why Allee's post had been changed, a Microsoft spokeswoman said that the original had been an "earlier draft" and that the "accurate one" was the current entry, which omits the mention of a timeline, vague as it is.
At the same time that it sent Vista SP2 for duplication, Microsoft also announced that the tool that had blocked downloads of the service pack's predecessor, Vista SP1, had expired as of yesterday. Users who had deployed the tool to prevent Vista from receiving SP1 would now start seeing the update offered in Windows Update, the company said.
The tool, however, can be used to bar Vista SP2 -- or Server 2008 SP2 -- from reaching systems for the next 12 months.
Microsoft's pace for Vista SP2 was quicker than some predicted. In January, the Malaysian site TechARP.com, which has leaked accurate dates for many moves by Microsoft, said that Vista SP2 would hit RTM no later than mid-May.