Drivers Problems Hold Up Vista SP1 Upgrades

Tuesday Microsoft announced that Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista has been "released to manufacturing". That means we'll see Vista SP1 sometime in mid-March. But there's a glitch.

During beta testing, it was discovered that some device drivers do not install themselves properly, and do not work with the SP1 update. More from Microsoft...

These drivers do not follow our guidelines for driver installation and as a result, some beta participants who were using Windows Vista and updated to Service Pack 1 reported issues with these devices. Because the issue was with the way the drivers were installed and not the drivers themselves, the solution was simply to reinstall the drivers. While this worked fine for our more technical beta testers, we want to deliver a better experience for customers as we make the update broadly available.

To mitigate the problem, Windows Update will not offer SP1 to computers who have known device issues. You can bypass this and still install by going to Microsoft's download center, Later, in mid-April, Vista SP1 will be automatically installed (rather than requiring the user to chose to install SP1) for those devices set for automatic download and install.

While you'd prefer not to have driver issues with Vista SP1, I think Microsoft's done an admirable job of taking this into account. I'm not so sure Microsoft in the past wouldn't have just forced an update like this on user without regard to the driver issues. Staging the SP1 update is a good compromise and gives users choice and options about installing SP1.

One thing that is missing though is IT support groups would like to know ahead of time which computers may have incompatible drivers so they can stage the update through WSUS. I haven't seen any mention of Microsoft providing such a capability but that would be very handy and helpful to many organizations. The alternative would be to publish a list of the drivers with compatibility problems so we can track down updated drives that address the issue.

All in all though, Microsoft's taking extra precautions to work around this issue and help Vista SP1 update be a successful one.

Related articles: Product Bistro: Software Updates - At user's or vendor's peril?

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