TechNet subscribers revolt over Vista SP1 'debacle'

Angry TechNet, MSDN subscribers download pirated copies, dump Vista plans

A revolt among IT professionals and developers is brewing over Microsoft's decision to hold the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), with some admitting that they've downloaded pirated copies to begin testing and others claiming that the delay scuttles their Vista deployment plans.

On the TechNet Plus blog, where Microsoft solicited comments on the delay, more than 130 users and subscribers have unleashed a tidal wave of criticism against the decision to not make the RTM version of SP1 available immediately. Microsoft, which earlier said it will not post Vista SP1 RTM to Windows Update or its download site, has only promised to provide a full install copy of the operating system in "early March" to TechNet and MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) subscribers.

But while the company interjected comments of its own into the stream of postings this week, as of midday Friday Eastern time, it had not budged on the availability of SP1 for TechNet and MSDN subscribers.

Virtually none of the 131 comments posted thus far defended Microsoft's decision, and many were extremely blunt. "[Microsoft] has done some really boneheaded stuff, but this ranks right up at the top," said Pete Mitchell in a comment added to the blog Monday.

Another user identified as "PopePeter" put it differently: "Microsoft in its infinite wisdom has chosen to kick its core user base right where it hurts."

One wag, identified as Jim, even took a humorous route: "This is the lamest decision since Microsoft Bob. I get this the same time as my mom?"

Although the comments at times wandered off topic, they generally fell into several distinct threads, among them threats to ditch TechNet and MSDN, accounts of downloading pirated code to start testing, and warnings to Microsoft that this move will force some organizations to delay deploying Vista and continue using Windows XP instead.

"The whole point of TechNet is for IT pros to get access to Microsoft software to test and evaluate before deploying it into a production environment," said a subscriber pegged as "solema." "It's why I bought TechNet, and why most others did as well. If we can't get access to SP1 very soon, then I have to agree with everyone else that my subscription has just been severely devalued, and I will seriously reconsider my renewal."

"Isn't the whole purpose of MSDN so you get a chance to test your work in a variety of scenarios?" asked Maarten. "SP1 for Vista is the biggest update since XP SP2, and we don't get to test it?"

"Needless to say, we are done with MSDN and TechNet after this billing cycle," vowed someone tagged as "JF."

The situation infuriated some users after they found pirates could download illegal copies of SP1 RTM from BitTorrent Inc. sites while developers were locked out by Microsoft. Ironically, some admitted to downloading SP1 from sites such as The Pirate Bay so they could start banging on the operating system.

"I must also report that we are now using a SP1 version from a torrent to begin testing so that we can at least support clients that come to us with questions on SP1," admitted Matt.

"I have seen the torrent files as well and went ahead and downloaded the one I needed so I can begin testing," said a commenter using the alias "MSDN Subscriber." "I can't actually believe this is the first time I installed a torrent client on an office machine."

Others questioned why press reviewers had received the final bits -- and posted reviews online -- before SP1 was available to paying subscribers of TechNet and MSDN. (Editor's note: Computerworld's reviewers have received the final code of SP1 RTM.)

"My company pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to Microsoft every year for Premier Support and to not have to opportunity to get the software before the press is ridiculous," vented Chris Ripkey.

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Gregg Keizer

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