Vista SP1, RTMs and Lies

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2008-02-07 Print this article Print

How can Microsoft release something to manufacturing when it's not ready to be released to manufacturing?

Just how stupid does Microsoft think we are? Well, I guess we must be pretty stupid, because Microsoft comes right out and tells us that it's release to manufacturing Vista SP1 on Feb. 4, except that if you read further down in the announcement letter, Microsoft says it's not really releasing it for another six weeks.

Say what?

I quote from the Microsoft Corporate VP of Windows Product Management Mike Nash's public letter of Feb. 4: "Today we are excited to announce that we have released Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista to manufacturing [RTM] for our first set of languages [English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese]."

So far, so good. And, you can read all about how wonderful, simply wonderful, Vista SP1 is both in his letter and in hundreds of follow-up news postings.

But, what's this, nine paragraphs down? "We are going to stage our rollout of SP1 for current Windows Vista users to be approximately concurrent with the availability of Windows Vista SP1 on new PCs and in stores." And, what does that mean?

It means, "In mid-March, we will release Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Update [in English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese] and to the download center on"

Maybe it's just me, but mid-March doesn't sound like Feb. 4 to me? And, for those many users who have blind faith in their computers, "In mid-April, we will begin delivering Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Vista customers who have chosen to have updates downloaded automatically."

Why is Microsoft doing this? Because, "Our beta testing identified an issue with a small set of device drivers. 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."

Isn't that an interesting paragraph? The problem isn't really with Vista SP1, it's those darn driver installation routines. So, for you, our beloved customers, we're going to do something -- we're not telling you what -- to make Vista SP1 work right even with badly installed drivers.

I'm still not sure how a driver installation routine, after the driver is installed, can interfere with an operating system. But OK, if that's their excuse, then that's their excuse.

Still, if Vista SP1 isn't really ready to go, then what is it exactly that Microsoft is sending to the OEMs? Won't the driver installation routines need to be fixed for the OEMs as well?

If I'm Dell, Hewlett-Packard, or Joe's White Boxes, I certainly don't want to put Vista SP1 on systems where I'll need to reinstall some device drivers on the factory room floor. Oh, and what drivers will I need to do this with? Microsoft's not telling. Or, in the worse of all possible worlds, I use my RTMed SP1 and my customers discover that the audio or video doesn't work. Were I a computer vendor, there's no way I'm installing these RTMed bits on any of my computers.

By the way, when I say, "You can't get Vista SP1," I mean, "You can't get Vista SP1." Period. End of statement. Unless you want to take a chance at downloading something that says it's a copy of SP1 from a BitTorrent site, you're a beta tester or a technology analyst or journalist--aka people like me -- you're not going to get it.

MSDN (Microsoft Software Developer Network) member? Nope, you can't have it. TechNet member? Please, we're not giving it to developers who shell out serious coin for MSDN, do you really think we're going to give it to TechNetters who only pay a few hundred bucks?

But even though you can't get Vista SP1, if I may paraphrase Microsoft: "We've RTMed it. Really we have. Trust us."

Click here to read Joe Wilcox's take.


I'm editor-at-large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. That's a fancy title that means I write about whatever topic strikes my fancy or needs written about across the Ziff Davis Enterprise family of publications. You'll find most of my stories in Linux-Watch, DesktopLinux and eWEEK. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, I worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel