Redmond (WA) - The first significant update for Windows Vista is on its way to the consumer. SP1 is in production now and will be available to users in March. Microsoft also announced the release of manufacturing of Windows Server 2008.
The service pack for Vista will deliver "quality improvements" with enhancements for "reliability, security and performance", Microsoft promises in its RTM announcement. There are few details about these improvements available today, but the Vista development team claims that "copying or moving files around your PC, your home network or your corporate network should now be much faster - up to 50% faster in some scenarios" and "resuming a Windows Vista-based PC from sleep is faster on Service Pack 1" when running "many kinds of hardware".
In contrast to the release of previous service packs and the release of Windows Vista itself, Microsoft takes a more cautious approach rolling out the software. While SP1 is technically available already (and it actually is being made available to OEMs), Microsoft will not be offering the online update to end-users until Vista SP1 PCs are shipping in mid-March. Microsoft hopes that a slower rollout will avoid hiccups when users are installing the update: "The key learning over the last year is that when we change the operating system, it takes time to let the ecosystem make sure that the hardware and software that they build works well with Windows Vista," wrote product manager Mike Nash on the Vista team blog.
According to Nash, beta testing of SP1 "identified an issue with a small set of device drivers", which may cause installation problems. The staged rollout will allow Microsoft to "work with some of [its] hardware partners to make adjustments to the installation process for the affected drivers." Nash did not specify which of these drivers, which apparently "do not follow [Microsoft’s] guidelines for driver installation" are affected.
Microsoft has also updated its installation routine and said that a PC that is configured with "problematic" drivers will not be able to download and run SP1 via Windows Update.
The company informed its customers that Windows Server 2008 was also released to manufacturing today and will be available for purchase to new customers on March 1. Microsoft Volume Licensing customers with active Microsoft Software Assurance coverage or an Enterprise Agreement will be able to download the server software "toward the end of February" as part of the joint Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 launch event.