Microsoft's announcement that it is preparing a Vista Service Pack 1 beta in two weeks is curious on many levels. Although Microsoft delivers improvements via service packs I can't help but consider Vista SP1 a do-over.
When the SP1 lands in the first quarter of 2008 are we really getting what Vista should have been at launch?
Redmond would dispute that notion, but I wonder. After all, SP1 is chunky and we're not talking just pleasantly plump. The list of bug fixes is long with stuff--better printer driver support, reliability with external displays, more speed copying files, improved log-on--you'd expect to be in the first go round.
For the beta release, you’ll need 7GB of free disk space to install the x86 version and 12GB of free disk space for the x64 package. (Most of this space is for temporary files and for the Vista image-based installer.) For home users with a reliable Internet connection, Microsoft plans to offer an Express update option that should require only a 50MB download; the stand-alone installer, which includes support for all languages and all Vista editions, checks in at a hefty 1GB. The final release might be smaller, but not much, if history is any guide.
And Mary Jo Foley cuts to the chase (Techmeme):
Microsoft still is telling customers not to wait for Vista SP1, and to proceed with testing and upgrades now. After hearing about what’s coming in SP1, I can’t imagine anyone planning to move to Vista not waiting for SP1.
When you look at the sheer volume of additions/fixes/etc. in SP1 you'd be a dunce not to wait for it before pondering Vista. In some corners, the SP1 is an indictment of the first Vista, which you could argue wasn't ready for prime time in the first place.
"Finally! All the stuff that should have been in Vista at RTM time. Too bad it'll be after the holidaze when it's out; I could use it now!"
Meanwhile, Microsoft is also releasing the third service pack for Windows XP. That gives you two good reasons to hold off on Vista.
So what should you be thinking? Let's crawl inside the mind of an IT executive.
Microsoft: We'll announce this Vista SP1 on August 29.
What Joe IT is thinking: "Geesh, can't a guy get a break. I'm on vacation at the beach and just happened to check my BlackBerry. Microsoft sure wanted to downplay this news."
Microsoft: Let's toss in an update on the Windows Server 2008 launch.
What Joe IT is thinking: "I barely noticed Windows Server 2008. Isn't that delayed?
Microsoft: Some SP1 improvements have tradeoffs.
What Joe IT is thinking: "Tradeoffs? Is that like applications breaking?"
Microsoft: Organizations do not need to wait for SP1 to deploy Windows Vista; they are encouraged to begin their Windows Vista evaluation and deployment now.
What Joe IT is thinking: "Umm. Sure. Well I'm much more into a pilot today than I was before SP1. Maybe I'll hang back a bit though. XP SP3 anyone?"