Vista SP1 inches closer to release

(Update 1/14/08: Microsoft has made the Vista SP1 code available to the general public. See comment below.) Microsoft is inching toward an actual release of an actual final Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista. On January 9 it sent a pre-release build to 15,000 beta testers. Microsoft promised that the final SP1 would meet a delivery date of sometime in the first quarter of 2008, though has not yet named the date. (What else is new? The world has been speculating on this SP1 release date since last summer.) We've lost count of how many pre-release candidates Microsoft has already released. In December, for instance, it let loose another one.

Unlike the way software updates were handled in the olden days (through a new version, which used to be called a version, but in Microsoft lingo must be called a Service Pack), with Vista, Microsoft issues updates on a continual basis. It uses the much abhorred Windows Update feature to do this. Update is, of course, the mechanism used for security patches, but the Vista team also pushes out improvements in features, so the team continuously points out in its blog (as in - you don't have to wait until SP1! We're improving Vista all the time!)

For instance, on Tuesday (Patch Tuesday), Windows Update automatically installed non-security related updates for Vista. These were a little unusual, explained Vista product manager Nick White in a post on Monday:

"The updates include the regular monthly Malicious Software Removal Tool and Windows Mail Junk Mail Filter, two updates in our regular series of Windows Vista updates (KB943302 for application compatibility and KB943899 for reliability and performance), and one update of particular notice: KB935509. Similar to previous updates that enhanced Windows Vista's performance and reliability, these updates will be distributed automatically through Windows Update.
"Tomorrow's KB935509 release is a little different than past updates. It is a prerequisite for installing SP1 and is applicable only for Windows Vista Ultimate and Enterprise users, because it only affects versions of Windows Vista supporting BitLocker Drive Encryption."
Now, perhaps some of you read about the unintended results of these updates on Mitchell Ashley's poor Vista PC. He woke up Wednesday to discover that Microsoft Word no longer worked with Vista. (So much for the lauded "application compatibility" fixes these Vista updates are supposed to provide.)

Nevertheless, the features that the team promise for SP1 are all about improved app compatibility, better performance and beefed up device drivers. Can't help replying to that with a great big, "We'll believe it when we see it." Vista has a lot of cool things going for it. Unfortunately, app compatibility and performance are not among them. When it comes to Vista, skepticism is required.

What problems have you had with Vista app compatability? Has Microsoft done anything to fix these problems?

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