The first service pack for Microsoft Vista may not be due until early next year, but elements of the software are continuing to appear as part of Microsoft's ongoing support activities for the latest Windows.
Over the weekend, one "hotfix" for a problem encountered by some Vista users when installing USB devices, and destined for inclusion in Service Pack 1 (SP1), was made available for general use.
Microsoft has previously been testing the update and making it accessible to enterprise clients on support contracts, but hasn't made the patch public.
The hotfix will be welcome news for Vista users who have been suffering from the problem since at least March. A variety of workarounds have been used to solve the problem, but none have been especially reliable.
Microsoft begun beta testing SP1 on a limited scale in August, and is aiming for a general release in the first quarter of 2008. The first service pack is seen as critical for the adoption of the operating system, as many enterprise buyers hold off on upgrading until the first service pack release, hoping to avoid the "showstopper" bugs found in initial releases.
Despite its five-year beta period, Vista still encountered heavy criticism upon release because of the lack of driver support for some popular items of hardware, as well as general compatibility problems. The USB patch issued over the weekend dealt with one common scenario that can cause Vista to falter: external software assuming that system files are handled in the same way in Vista as in earlier releases.
Microsoft has sold more than 88 million copies of Vista since its release late last year. While company officials have said they are pleased with the sales, they have conceded that enterprise adoption of Vista has not been faster than previous versions, despite proclaiming that as a goal at the launch of the operating system.