Vista SP1 is ready -- or is it?

Crucial service-pack code wraps, but when will users get it? That's the question

In that presentation, titled "It's A Great Time To Take a Look at Windows Vista," Microsoft ticked off the improvements in SP1 and argued that the service pack "addresses key feedback received from our customers" and "benefits from a year's worth of improvements made by our hardware and software partners." That sounds like a pitch to come back for a second look.

And if talk of the next version of Windows -- dubbed Windows 7 for now -- is on target, and the follow-on to Vista appears next year or even 2010, the Vista clock is ticking. That makes getting SP1 out the door even more important, since like it or not, a lot of customers -- corporate ones in particular -- have put off Vista until at least the appearance of the first service pack.

Sure, those customers have already paid, or most of them have, for Vista with licensing agreements such as Software Assurance. But unless they move to Vista and use what they paid for, the chance is that the next time the agreement comes around, they'll take a pass.

Vista, who cares? What I want to know is what's up with the next service pack for Windows XP.

Microsoft has continued to keep XP SP3 so low on the radar it's positively flying in the grass. It has released several builds to testers, one to the general public in December 2007, but the slated ship date remains evasive -- sometime before the end of June, Microsoft continues to say.

The latest from the company on XP SP3 is this: "We are targeting 1H [first half] 2008 for the release of XP SP3 RTM, though our timing will always be based on customer feedback as a first priority."

Truth be told, we figure that Microsoft wishes that XP would just go away already, and make way for Vista. But customers, we suspect, won't let that happen. Since we last FAQed Vista, Microsoft gave XP a five-month reprieve by extending its availability to resellers and at retail through June 30, 2008, rather than the original cutoff date of Jan. 31.

Stay tuned. We'll FAQ Windows XP SP3 when the time is right. Or ripe.

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Gregg Keizer

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