Wait, if you can, for SP1 to come out
Microsoft's new operating system, Windows Vista, was released in January amidst much fanfare. As is often the case, however, businesses and individuals have been slow to adopt this new software. Most folks are waiting for the release of the enigmatic "Service Pack 1" abbreviated as SP1.
Service Pack is a name used by Microsoft and other software vendors to describe a collection of bug fixes and additional features that improve upon the original version of the software. In typical technological fashion, vendors refer to this set by many different names, including "update," "refresh," or the ever-popular "hot fix accumulator." A service pack is typically released six to 12 months after the initial release of the software.
Microsoft has been the butt of many service-pack jokes. However, the fact of the matter is that Microsoft created this phenomenon. In the old days, no one waited for a service pack. But Microsoft established a pattern of releasing software that was not quite ready for prime time, then followed up with a service pack to account for the shortcomings. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, other vendors also adapted this process of releasing software just a little too early.
So when is Vista SP1 really coming out? Microsoft has been somewhat cagey about this. In fact, their "service pack roadmap" at www.microsoft.com/windows/lifecycle/servicepacks.mspx doesn't list a date for it. Interestingly enough, SP3 for Windows XP is due in 1HCY2008, which we've deciphered to mean the first half of 2008 -- although "1HCY2008" could mean "whenever the heck we want."
Earlier this year, the buzz was that Vista SP1 would be released in the latter half of 2007. However, a June 19, 2007 status report to the U.S. Department of Justice indicated that Microsoft anticipates the beta code for SP1 to "be available by the end of the year." If we interpret that correctly, that would mean that the production release of SP1 won't be available until early 2008.
Regardless of the exact date of release, we still believe it prudent for businesses and organizations to wait for SP1 before fully adopting Vista. Larger enterprises should have no problem buying new computers with XP or other operating systems loaded. Certainly, testing of Vista in your environment can begin anytime. This is highly recommended, especially if you have custom software implemented.
Smaller organizations and home users might be able to operate with a little more abandon, so if you're of that ilk, take the plunge. Further, if you need a new PC right now, go ahead and get one with Vista. But if you can wait for the service pack, then your patience should pay off.