Microsoft is still on track to make a beta available later this week of what it's referring to as "Vista Service Pack 1 Preview," according to sources close to the company.
Microsoft is expected to provide certain testers with access to the Vista SP1 Preview beta code later this week, possibly on July 19, the day the company will announce its fiscal 2007 earnings, sources said.
A certain select few testers already have been working with earlier versions of the Vista SP1 code, sources said. This week's beta of SP1 Preview will be opened up to more testers and will be a refresh, sources said.
On July 17, Microsoft made available to preselected testers a beta of the Windows Driver Kit (WDK) designed to coincide with the Vista SP1 Preview testers said. The refreshed WDK code is on the Microsoft Connect site for download, testers added.
WinBeta.org is running a copy of the WDK e-mail that Microsoft is said to have sent to testers. It includes the following statement:
"A new beta WDK build is now available for download on Connect. This WDK beta release to Connect coincides with the recent OS beta release for Vista SP1 Preview. Please take a few moments to install the new build and test as applicable for your needs. As always, please file bugs as quickly and detailed as possible."
Microsoft officials did not respond to a request for comment on the company's Vista SP1 rollout plans or WDK availability by the time this blog post was published.
Update: On Tuesday afternoon, a Microsoft spokesman said this note from the WDK team was not accurate and included a typo. He said the note was about a WDK for Windows Server 2008.
(My comment: Sure seems like we're seeing a lot of Windows Vista SP1 typos lately.)
Update No. 2 on July 18: The file name for the download of the WDK is 6001.16549.070628-1825-WDKSP1_EN.ISO, as WinBeta notes. Guess the typo must have worked its way into the file name, too. A few Vista testers have said to me they believe that the WDK should be the same for Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008.
Vista SP1 -- an update which Microsoft has done its best to make its officials wouldn't discuss -- is expected to include a number of performance and reliability improvements. SP1 is expected to be more about fixes than features, according to those claiming to be in the know. Among the expected list of Vista SP1 update:
- Performance tweaks lessening the amount of time it takes to copy files and shut down Vista machines
- Improved transfer performance and decreased CPU utilization via support for SD Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA)
- Support for ExFat, the Windows file format for flash memory storage and other consumer devices
- Improvements to BitLocker Drive Encryption to allow not just encryption of the whole Vista volume, but also locally created data volumes
- The ability to boot Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) on an x64 machine
- Improved success rate for firewalled MeetingSpace and Remote Assistance connections
"The SP1 stuff is being rushed much more than we had expected so it's going to be a lot less impressive than we had hoped," said one Vista tester, who requested anonymity. "The changes at Microsoft have been pretty dramatic. It's been made pretty clear that dates will determine releases, not features. So you will probably be able to set your watch by Windows releases."
No word from Microsoft on when and if it is planning an open beta of Vista SP1 (preview or final). In fact, still no official word from Microsoft on anything at all regarding Vista SP1. Last I heard, however, November 2007 is still the target for the final Vista SP1 release.