Many of the Microsoft watchers and customers I know have been expecting Microsoft to ship the first service pack (SP) for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 before the end of 2010.
But according to a newly published Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on the Microsoft TechNet site, Microsoft is planning to release SP1 in the first half of 2011.
Let me say upfront that this statement doesn't necessarily mean that Microsoft won't deliver SP1 this year. The Windows team is still chanting the underpromise/overdeliver mantra. With recent Windows releases, the team has provided estimated delivery dates that were considerably later than what they expected they could achieve, in order to make sure there were no (public) missed ship dates. So despite the latest proclamation, it's still hard to say for sure if SP1 will be a 2010 or a 2011 deliverable.
Here's an excerpt from the TechNet FAQ, which addresses SP1 timing:
Q: When will SP1 be released? A: Service Pack 1 will be released within the first half of calendar year 2011.
(And here's a screen capture including this, in case someone at Microsoft gets overzealous in editing the site after I publish this post. Hey, accidents happen....)
(click on the text box above to enlarge)
Microsoft officials have been adamant that consumers and business customers don't need to wait for SP1 to deploy Windows 7 and/or Windows Server 2008 R2. Still, a number of business customers use the release of SP1 as a milestone in terms of planning their deployments of a new operating system.
Last week, Microsoft released a public beta of SP1. (The Windows team released a private beta to selected testers a week or two before this.) Microsoft officials have said repeatedly that there will be no new features in Windows 7 SP1 and two new virtualization features in the server SP1 variant.
In reality, Windows 7 SP1 includes a few pieces of functionality that Microsoft hasn't made available via Windows Update or through various security patches. Company officials still insist these are "enhancements," rather than new features.These "enhancements" include things such as support for more third-party federation services; improved HDMI audio device support; and XPS printing fixes.
Any businesses out there waiting on SP1? Why or why not?
Update: Microsoft actually posted the "first half 2011" date as part of a (much longer) blog post about the beta availability of SP1 back on July 12 on the Windows Blog. (Looks like I wasn't the only one who missed it, based on reader feedback I'm getting.) The new rumored target date is supposedly April 2011, I hear. Not sure why it will take that long for something that doesn't include new features (maybe it's more an issue of the server SP1 holding up the client?)... But there you have it.