Microsoft Will Release Vista SP1 Early to "Technical Customers"

Company reverses earlier decision to release in mid-March

This morning, Microsoft reversed an earlier decision that would have forced IT pros to wait -- along with consumers -- until mid-March to get their hands on Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), which was released to manufacturers earlier this month.

Microsoft had originally decided to release SP1 to IT pros and consumers at the same time next month, citing hardware driver conflicts for the delay. That decision set off a firestorm of negative feedback from a wide variety of IT professionals.

The comments were particularly heated on the company's TechNet blog, populated by developers and other TechNet/MSDN subscribers. "Fair enough if the Windows Update release for the masses are pushed till March, but as subscribers to TechNet/MSDN we should be able to download this immediately," commented one poster. "I don't get it, how are we supposed to be Vista SP1-ready, when the customers get access to SP1 before we as developers do?"

"This is so silly," wrote another. "We need the code. Let us download, from our Volume Licensing site, or download center...If there are driver issues...we can fix least I can...that [is] what I get paid to do."

"Why bother having a TechNet account?" asked another. "What a major slap in the face for your loyal subscribers who pay good money each year to have early access to this technology."

Posters were on the calmer side -- though still frustrated -- on the Windows Vista blog, where Corporate Vice President of Windows Product Management Mike Nash made the original announcement regarding the timing of the SP1 release earlier this month. "We now have to wait another 6 weeks? Why are OEMs more important than the Systems Administrators that run 100s of MS products on thousands of PCs, laptops and servers every day on corporate networks (for our sins!)," commented one IT pro under the post.

"I can totally appreciate not wanting to release for auto-update customers yet, but for us IT pros, why not release it somewhere (TechNet, MSDN, Connect, or something) so we can begin testing it?" asked another. "A lot of folks are also waiting for SP1 before deploying Vista (or even evaluating Vista), so why not give them a leg up by offering it at least for download?"

Throughout last week, Microsoft responded that it was taking all the feedback into consideration and was working on a solution.

That solution came this morning when, citing customer feedback, Nash announced on his blog that Vista SP1 will be rolled out to "technical customers" early in a variety of ways.

The rollout has already started: On Friday, the SP1 release to manufacturers (RTM) version was given to "individuals and companies that participated in the SP1 beta program," Nash wrote -- although, as noted in this All About Microsoft blog post by Mary Jo Foley, the 15,000 testers who participated in the private beta already had the final version, as Vista SP1 RC 2 is the same as the final RTM version.

The next group to receive SP1 will be volume licensing customers, who should receive it by Friday. Finally, TechNet Plus and MSDN subscribers will receive it by "the end of the month," according to Nash.

As for the hardware driver conflicts that originally delayed the rollout, Nash wrote that because Microsoft now feels "this type of issue can be addressed by our more technical customers since they are comfortable reinstalling drivers," it reversed the decision.

"Our goal here is to address the needs of our customers while delivering the best experience. Please keep the comments coming," he continued. "We are listening!"

While some IT pros have reacted positively to the new schedule, others still aren't happy. "If you were really listening, you would have released this on TechNet and MSDN already. Why would you keep final code out of IT personnel and developers' hands for no reason?...IT personnel and developers already have a hard enough time testing compatibility with new versions of Windows and new service packs without you artificially delaying things," wrote one IT pro this morning.

Another commented, "Well, 20 days is a long time, but I guess this is better than nothing."

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the former editorial director and director of Web for 1105 Media's Converge 360 group, and she now serves as vice president of AI for company, specializing in developing media, events and training for companies around AI and generative AI technology. She's the author of "ChatGPT Prompt 101 Guide for Business Users" and other popular AI resources with a real-world business perspective. She regularly speaks, writes and develops content around AI, generative AI and other business tech. Find her on X/Twitter @beckynagel.

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