Monday, August 20, 2007

No Green Light Yet for Vista Service Pack

Now that Microsoft has moved to a monthly update system -- commonly known as Patch Tuesday -- the pressure for getting Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) quickly out the door has been reduced. All the same, analysts say many companies are waiting on Vista SP1 as an important milestone before they will adopt Microsoft's newest operating system.

Earlier this week, Microsoft Relevant Products/Services Windows watcher posted an e-mail from the software giant's Windows Driver Kit team that ended up launching a media feeding frenzy on news sites around the world. According to Microsoft's e-mail to the site, the release of a beta version of the first service pack for Vista was available for download.

The resulting avalanche of press reports from around the globe forced Microsoft to clarify the report by saying that the earlier e-mail was actually designed to announced the availability of the beta of Windows Server 2008 instead of Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), and that the confusion was due to a typo.

Michael Silver, research vice president in Gartner Relevant Products/Services's Client Computing group, said that although Vista SP1 is not yet ready to roll, the sooner Microsoft releases it, the sooner businesses that look at SP1 as an important milestone will start adopting Vista.

If Microsoft gets SP1 out this year, he said, it could buy Microsoft an extra quarter of adoption in businesses, Silver explained. "That may not fuel a lot of extra revenue, but it helps improve the perception of Vista," he noted.

No Impact on Mainstream Users

In its latest update on the software giant's compliance with antitrust issues, the U.S. Department of Justice noted that Microsoft had agreed to release the beta of Vista SP1 this year. Microsoft has confirmed its commitment to a beta release in 2007, but did not commit to a specific date.

It has been standard practice for Microsoft to issue service packs for fixing security Relevant Products/Services holes and other bugs that the company identifies after each operating system's official release. But now that the software giant has moved to a monthly update system -- commonly known as Patch Tuesday -- the pressure for getting Vista SP1 quickly out the door has been reduced.

On whatever date that Microsoft does release the beta version of Vista SP1, it will have no impact on mainstream PC users. The goal of the software giant's beta release will be limited to getting a selected audience of software developers and engineers to review the service pack before it goes mainstream.

Heading Google Off at the Pass

Microsoft is currently in the midst of making changes to Vista that are the outgrowth of a recent settlement with the Justice Department and the attorneys general of 17 states that tries, in part, to rectify a complaint filed by Google against the software giant.

The Instant Search functionality embedded in Windows Vista relies on an index that is updated whenever files on the computer change. Google complained that this was a new "middleware product" that violated the antitrust judgments that the Justice Department had already imposed on Microsoft.

Microsoft recently agreed to allow greater flexibility among users and equipment manufacturers to install completing search products, such as Google Desktop. However, the changes will not go into effect until the release of Vista SP1.