Which Windows Service Pack Are You Waiting For?

Are you waiting for Service Pack 1 before deploying Windows Vista? Based on Microsoft’s raft of Windows announcements this morning, it looks as though companies sold on a “better SP1 than sorry” deployment strategy will be hanging tight until Q1 of 2008.

Here’s the word, straight from the keyboards of Microsoft’s Windows PR team:

Windows Vista SP1 beta will be released in a few weeks to a moderate sized audience. At this time, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards. Microsoft is targeting first quarter of 2008 for Windows Vista SP1 but will collect customer feedback from our upcoming beta process before setting a final date.”

Naturally, however:

“Microsoft encourages organizations not to wait for SP1 but instead deploy Windows Vista today in order to benefit from improved security, management, and deployment benefits.”

Is Windows Vista worth skipping the wait? That might depend on whether or not you’re a volume license customer. When XP came out, Microsoft chose to spare customers who purchase Windows en masse from the phone-home software activation schemes that came along with retail XP copies. For Vista, no customer is spared the additional management tasks that accompany activation.

I keep telling people that if I ran Windows on my desktops, I’d probably be running Vista, but considering how often I tear down and build up my systems, the added hassles of activation might have driven me back to XP. I can tell you that activation hassles are a big part of why eWEEK Labs tends to default to XP for our tests that require Windows.

I’ll be testing the Vista SP1 beta once it becomes available, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you’re among those who are sticking with Windows XP, there’s a Service Pack on the way for you as well:

“Microsoft will be releasing Windows XP SP3 to customers and partners in the next few weeks. It is a standard practice to release a service pack as a release nears end-of-life for the convenience to our customers and partners. Windows XP SP3 is rollup of previously released updates for Windows XP including security updates, out-of-band releases, and hotfixes. It will also contain a small number of new updates. This should not significantly change the Windows XP experience.”

Rounding out this morning’s Windows announcements is a confirmation of the Windows Server 2008 delay that my colleague Joe Wilcox predicted early (and often):

“Windows Server 2008: Microsoft’s first priority is to deliver quality products to their customers and therefore Windows Server 2008 is now slated to release to manufacturing (RTM) in the first quarter of 2008. … For more information on this, please see today’s Windows Server blog posting at http://blogs.technet.com/windowsserver/default.aspx.”

Which service pack are you waiting for?