Microsoft: Vista SP1 Available In Mid-March

During beta testing for Vista SP1, Microsoft found that some device drivers were causing problems on systems with SP1 installed. Although the issues can be fixed by uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers, Microsoft decided this would be too complicated for most users. As a result, Microsoft will spend the next month hunting for additional problematic device drivers, said David Zipkin, senior product manager in Windows Client Group.

"With drivers, we wanted to make sure when folks upgrade to Vista that they have a smooth experience," Zipkin said.

Microsoft is currently working with its hardware partners to hammer out the device driver glitches, according to Zipkin, who declined to name the partners.

In mid-March, Microsoft plans to release Vista SP1 in 5 languages -- English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese -- through Windows Update and the Download Center, Zipkin said, adding that Microsoft will ensure that SP1 isn't pushed out to PCs that have the aforementioned drivers installed.

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In April, Microsoft will begin auto updates of Vista SP1 to users who've chosen this option, and will also release the rest of the language specific versions of Vista SP1, Zipkin said.

Microsoft has handed off the final Vista SP1 bits to its OEM partners, and if testing goes well, they'll soon begin building new PCs based on Vista SP1 images. Microsoft has also begun pressing Vista SP1 DVDs for its retail and volume licensing customers, said Zipkin.

Vista and Windows Server 2008 are closely aligned and are both very similar from an engineering point of view, with a 95 percent shared code base, said Bob Visse, senior director of marketing in the Windows Server Marketing Group.

Microsoft is working with ISV partners and hardware partners to help them build Server 2008 compatible applications. As part of this effort, Microsoft has established three tiers for ISVs to pledge their support for the Server 2008 platform, each with successively more stringent application testing requirements.

Microsoft currently has 80 ISVs in the highest tier and expects that number to jump to 225 within the next three months, said Visse, who expects the "vast majority" of Microsoft's approximately 1000 ISV partners to extend their support for Server 2008.