Microsoft to Release Vista Fixes in 2008
Microsoft raised the curtain Wednesday on plans for an update to the Windows Vista operating system, as well as updates to its predecessor, Windows XP.
Vista Service Pack 1 will be broadly available sometime during the first three months of 2008. A test version is going out to a small audience in the next few weeks, said Shanen Boettcher, general manager of Windows product management. He declined to be more specific.
The timing of the release, which Microsoft would not talk about until now, is important to corporate IT departments evaluating or deploying the new Microsoft operating system. Other companies are waiting for the service pack to start the process of moving to Vista.
With SP1, Boettcher said, Microsoft is aiming to improve the quality of the product with specific improvements including: support for new hardware standards; changes to how Windows can be managed by IT departments; general reliability and security updates.
That's in contrast to the second service pack for Vista's predecessor, Windows XP, which was almost like a new operating system in itself. XP Service Pack 2 was released in August 2004.
"[Vista SP1] is not really a feature-rich delivery vehicle for us, so you're not going to see a lot of features or [user interface] changes in the product," Boettcher said.
Another change expected in SP1 — which Boettcher didn't mention — has to do with desktop search. In a dispute that spilled out in media leaks and court documents earlier this year, Google accused Microsoft of anti-competitive behavior because of the way Vista handled competing desktop search applications.
In a court filing in June, Microsoft pledged to change the feature so that competitors' products can be set as the default. The company pledged to make the changes as part of the first Vista service pack.
Also Wednesday, Microsoft pushed back its target for completing Windows Server 2008 to the first quarter of 2008 from the fourth quarter of this year. It cited quality issues but said the product's planned launch — Feb. 27, 2008 — remains unchanged.
Microsoft also announced timing for the third Windows XP service pack, though it's clearly not trumpeting this release. XP SP3 is due in test form in the next few weeks, Boettcher said, and should be finalized by the first half of 2008.
He said XP SP3 is "an end-of-life rollout for Windows XP" containing previous online updates and "small updates for hardware support."
Microsoft is trying to quickly move as many customers from XP to Vista, which was released to businesses Nov. 30 and broadly Jan. 30.