The slow rollout of Microsoft Vista Service Pack 1 has confused nearly everyone, with Microsoft announcing it had released SP1 to manufacturing several weeks ago but delaying its release until March 18.
Mike Nash, senior vice president of Windows product management, said at the time that Microsoft was dealing with an issue "with the way the device drivers were re-installed during the SP1 update process."
Microsoft then changed course slightly and announced it would release SP1 to volume customers by the end of last week. But now some 64-bit users are reporting that Windows Update is already delivering SP1.
Writing on the Hexus.net site, Parm Mann said Windows Update informed him Thursday that "I have one important update to install on my 64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium-based system -- Windows Vista Service Pack 1 for x64-based Systems." Parm reported the installation took less than 30 minutes and went smoothly.
Microsoft confirmed that the update went out, but said it was a mistake. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, an internationally published technology author, blogged Thursday that he received this statement from Microsoft:
"Since releasing SP1 to manufacturing on February 4th, we have made Windows Vista SP1 available to beta testers, MSDN and TechNet Plus subscribers, as well as Volume Licensing customers. Today, a build of SP1 was posted to Windows Update and it was inadvertently made available to a broad group. The build was intended only for our more technically advanced testers, and was meant to only be offered to those with a specific registry key set on their PC. For general availability, we are still planning to make SP1 broadly available in the mid-March time frame."
Antivirus Compatibility Issues
Microsoft also warned Friday that updating to SP1 may break a number of third-party antivirus applications. Some programs are blocked or do not run, while others suffer reduced functionality.
While most of the affected vendors are now offering supported versions, there are several programs that aren't yet updated to deal with the SP1 issues.
The latest problems come just days after Microsoft pulled back a file update required before users can install SP1. A number of users reported that the file, which updates Vista's installation software, caused their PCs to enter an infinite reboot sequence.
Compatibility problems like the current issues with the antivirus programs are pretty much to be expected with service-pack upgrades, said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, in an e-mail.
"From the looks of it, this is a fairly minor issue (though users of the third-party apps might disagree)," King wrote. "It's not unusual for SP releases to run into compatibility problems. In fact, if memory serves, the XP SP2 release caused problems with a much larger number of applications."
King added that vendors of affected programs should deliver patches and fixes "in short order." Indeed, Microsoft's support document indicates that most of the vendors have updated their software to fix the problem. At this writing, however, a few vendors have not yet delivered patches.
Information on the compatibility issues is available at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/935796.