Microsoft, Amazon Confirm Vista SP1 Available Today

Microsoft Corp. inadvertently has confirmed that Windows Vista users will be able to upgrade to Service Pack 1 (SP1) starting today.

The news had been expected, with some Web sites, including TechAPR.com, calling the date several weeks ago.

In an e-mail meant to clarify when Amazon.com could begin shipping retail copies of Vista SP1, a company spokeswoman noted that Vista users could get the update on March 18.

"When looking at Amazon's site, you will see separate listings -- one for pre-orders of Windows Vista with SP1 integrated, and the current version of Windows Vista, which does not include SP1, and can be purchased now and easily updated with SP1 online beginning March 18," the e-mailed statement read.

The spokeswoman was reacting to an earlier Computerworld story that noted online retailer Amazon.com had posted Vista SP1 as available starting on Wednesday, March 19; other reports pegged the service pack hitting Windows Update on Tuesday.

At one point, the spokeswoman said that Amazon's Vista listings were incorrect, and that the updated operating system would not be shipping until April. An Amazon customer service representative, however, said by phone that the wording "This item will be released on March 19, 2008" meant that the order would ship Wednesday.

Amazon Information on SP1

In fact, Amazon's listing for retail copies of Vista SP1 included phrasing nearly identical to the Microsoft statement. "Pre-order this version to get SP1 included in the box. Or buy Windows Vista Ultimate now, then update to SP1 online -- free of charge -- when the new versions are released on March 18, 2008." That text was not part of the Amazon sales pitch over the weekend.

Microsoft first announced that it had finished Vista SP1 on Feb. 4, when it shipped the update to computer makers. However, most Vista users have been unable to obtain the service pack. The exceptions have been beta testers, volume-licensing customers and subscribers to a pair of IT subscription services . Microsoft said it delayed the general release of SP1 because some hardware device drivers would not properly reinstall during the upgrade, and it needed additional time to work out ways to block systems with those drivers from getting the service pack.

If Microsoft holds to plan, Vista users will see SP1 in Windows Update Tuesday as an optional download, but only if their PCs do not harbor one of the balky drivers. Alternately, users will be able to download a much larger stand-alone installer from Microsoft's download site, also beginning Tuesday.

Microsoft plans to roll out SP1 next month to users who have Windows Update set to automatically download and install fixes.

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