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MS fast-tracks Vista service pack

Redmond hunts for crash test dummies

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The consumer version of Windows Vista ships next week but the firm is already planning a schedule for its first major update.

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 appears in the second half of 2007 and will feature security fixes and quality improvements, according to letters sent this week by Microsoft to corporate customers, Information Week reports.

Business users generally hold off on upgrading to the latest version of Windows until early teething troubles have been ironed out so giving a time frame for the delivery of an update to the operating system to businesses enrolled in Redmond's Technology Adoption Program makes sense.

In other industries shipping products you know will be flawed would provoke a backlash, but the complexity of modern software packages has made this inevitable for years. In its letter to customers, Microsoft asks for feedback from early adopters brave enough to deploy early builds of candidates for Vista SP1 in production environments so that it can iron out any compatibility or security issues. Redmond is also looking for marketing help from these brave souls, who it wants to act as customer references for media and analyst reports.

Windows XP shipped in October 2001, with SP1 arriving in September 2001 and SP2 (which included a raft of security improvements including turning on Windows Firewall, a practice that has helped reduce the prevalent of internet worms) in August 2004. By that reckoning Vista SP1 has been put onto a slightly faster development cycle, providing it appears before end of the year.

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 will certainly contain security bug fixes and might contain a small number of minor features dropped during the Vista development process.

However, Microsoft's next-generation file management system, WinFS, which is based on relational databases, the main feature shelved during the Vista development process is highly unlikely to feature in the update. WinFS is unlikely to feature in Windows itself until Vista successor, code-named Vienna, which is scheduled for delivery sometime between 2009-2012. ®

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