Driver bugs mar launch of Vista Service Pack 1

Microsoft has announced that Vista Service Pack 1 has been released to manufacturing – but it’s being held back from public release until mid-March.

Driver bugs mar launch of Vista Service Pack 1

Microsoft claims it needs time to address a number of driver issues that have arisen during the beta process.

“Our beta testing identified an issue with a small set of device drivers,” Microsoft’s Mike Nash writes on the Windows Vista team blog.

“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.”

As a result, Microsoft will now tweak Windows Update so that systems running the faulty drivers don’t download Service Pack 1. “While we know that most customers who update from Windows Vista to SP1 will NOT be affected, our approach is to improve the experience for all our customers,” says Nash.

“To do this, we will begin making SP1 available through Windows Update in mid-March, giving us time to work with some of our hardware partners to make adjustments to the installation process for the affected drivers.”

Microsoft will then start delivering SP1 to Vista users running automatic updates in mid-April, but once again, those people with the faulty drivers will miss out. “As updates for these drivers become available, they will be installed automatically by Windows Update, which will unblock these systems from getting Service Pack 1. The result is that more and more systems will automatically get SP1, but only when we are confident they will have a good experience,” Nash adds.

Speaking to PC Pro this afternoon, Windows client marketing manager, Mike Haigh, insisted “the overall device driver story is a great one – Vista now supports 80,000 devices.”

“Because we work with so many device driver manufacturers, we’re obviously going to have problems with some of them,” he adds.

Improved performance

Those not afflicted by the driver bugs will benefit from much smoother performance under SP1, according to Nash. “SP1 includes changes focused on improving the performance of Windows Vista in areas that impact the customer experience the most,” he says. “For instance, with SP1, copying or moving files around your PC, your home network or your corporate network should now be much faster – up to 50% faster in some scenarios (according to our internal tests). In addition, on many kinds of hardware, resuming a Windows Vista-based PC from sleep is faster on Service Pack 1.”

PC Pro’s own tests on the beta of SP1 showed only marginal performance increases, but we’ll be benchmarking the manufacturing code as soon as possible.

Microsoft has also announced that Windows Server 2008 has today been released to manufacturers ahead of its official launch at the end of this month.

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