Shhhh! Pre-beta Vista SP1 is out there

Over the past couple of days, there have been new reports of sightings of the pre-beta of Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1. The reported build number: 6001.16549 (longhorn_sp1beta1.070628-1825). I've asked Microsoft for comment. But given that "translucency," not "transparency," is the new Windows world order, I'm not expecting to hear much new.

Over the past couple of days, there have been new reports of sightings of the pre-beta of Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1. The reported build number: 6001.16549 (longhorn_sp1beta1.070628-1825).

I've been getting tips over the past couple of weeks from testers who said they had the promised pre-beta. The tipsters all were referencing different build numbers. My first guess was the secrecy-obsessed Windows Vista team might be providing different testers with different build numbers in order to trace leaks.

I've asked a few testers about the latest 6001.16549 build number. This one sounds like it's the real deal (and not a typo). It seems to be the pre-beta Vista SP1 build that Microsoft has been slowly trickling out to more and more testers over the past few weeks.

WinBeta is running alleged pre-beta Vista SP1 screen shots. I have no idea whether these are real or not. I've asked Microsoft officials for comment on the screens and for an update on Vista SP1 beta and final timing. (I'm not expecting I'll get much more than the same-old statement authorized for distribution by the Windows spokespeople.)

When will Microsoft release the promised public betaof SP1 to Vista testers? Back in early July, Microsoft told selected testers its plan of record was to get the private beta in key "influencers'" hands in mid-July and a public beta would follow "shortly thereafter." Microsoft is telling everyone else a beta of SP1 will be available some time this year -- and they they don't need it, anyway, since Microsoft has been rolling out fixes and updates regularly via Windows Update.

Microsoft also told selected testers earlier this summer that, if testing went smoothly, the final Vista SP1 would be out in November 2007. Microsoft isn't telling everyone else anything about final SP1 availability.

Back to the age-old question: Why has the Windows team become so intent on restricting information about a first service pack for a version of Windows that seemingly could benefit from one?

Sources say the new Windows client watchword is "translucency," as opposed to "transparency." Steven Sinofsky, the head of Windows and Windows Live engineering, blogged a few weeks back about the distinction, sources say. (Sinofsky's blog is, not surprisingly, an internal-only one. His external-facing blog went inactive in March 2006.)

"I know many folks think that this type of corporate 'clamp down' on disclosure is 'old school' and that in the age of corporate transparency we should be open all the time. Corporations are not really transparent. Corporations are translucent. All organizations have things that are visible and things that are not. Saying we want to be transparent overstates what we should or can do practically—we will share our plans in a thoughtful and constructive manner," according an alleged excerpt from Sinofsky's internal blog posting, shared by a source who requested translucency.

But just because "leaks" make for more work for the Microsoft teams working with press, analysts, customers and partners doesn't mean real information-sharing should be dialed-back to zero. And while the transparency policy in place during the development of Windows Vista may not have been fun for Microsoft -- and is now allegedly being blamed by Sinofsky as the reason Vista had so few drivers and applications certified as compatible when it came out of the gate -- is going 180-degrees in the opposite way really a better solution?

So we're officially in the new era of translucency (as in shower curtain, not window, pun intended). Given the new rules, if anyone wants to share information on Vista SP1 privately, feel free to drop me an e-mail.


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