Vista SP1 due out in next few weeks, sources say
Company says it's due by the end of March, but others hint it could be much sooner
Microsoft has said the highly anticipated service pack will be out in the first quarter of this year, but some say it could be available in the next few weeks, more than a month before the quarter ends on March 31.
A Taiwanese news service yesterday reported that Vista SP1 will be released Feb. 15, but "that date is as good as any other," said Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft. "For all we know, they could make it available tomorrow."
Microsoft, through its public relations agency, declined to comment on the Feb. 15 date beyond reiterating that the software will be available in the first quarter. Still, several sources who work closely with Microsoft said that a mid-February release is not unlikely and that they expect the software to be out before the end of March.
Chris Swenson, director of software industry analysis at the NPD Group Inc., said that analysts have heard Feb. 15 as the target for SP1, but it's not a statement Microsoft would confirm publicly in order to give itself time to make adjustments in case of negative feedback on the current release of the software.
Microsoft released Vista SP1 Release Candidate (RC) in December but then refreshed the software in a public release earlier this month.
Several Microsoft partners said that they could not confirm Feb. 15 as the date for SP1's release but that they expect the software soon for a number of reasons.
One of those is the strength of the release candidate, said Brian Randell, a senior consultant at MCW Technologies LLC in Los Angeles. He has been using the SP1 RC and said it is stable and running well so, "I can't see why [the final release] wouldn't be out soon."
Microsoft's hesitancy to give a firm date for SP1 means the company is confident it can get the final release out on time, said Andrew Brust, chief of new technology for consulting firm Twentysix New York. However, he also said the company wants to give itself room for last-minute changes.
"They are not ready to promise anything beyond Q1," he said. Brust is a regional director of Microsoft partners and works closely with the company.
Many believe the SP1 milestone is the one that will bring about a new wave of adoption for Vista, especially among business customers that have been waiting for the service pack's release before updating employee desktops. The combination of SP1 and Windows Server 2008, which is due Feb. 27, is expected to bode well for Vista adoption in the enterprise and medium-size business sectors.
Cherry said Microsoft probably won't release SP1 on the next so-called Patch Tuesday, on Feb. 12. Patch Tuesday refers to the second Tuesday of every month when Microsoft sends software patches and updates via its automatic updating services.
"Hopefully, they would keep the release of monthly patches separate from the release of a service pack," Cherry said.
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