Mid-March means Vista SP1

Microsoft has promised the Vista update would be broadly available by mid-month, which by my calendar means the code should show up on Windows Update this week.

For a long time now, Microsoft has been arguing that service packs are less significant than they used to be. What was once taken as a sign that a product had the kinks ironed out is now more a psychological milestone than a technical one.

That said, many are still pointing to the release of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 as a key sign to businesses that the product is ready to be taken seriously.

Microsoft finalized the code for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 at the beginning of February and eventually allowed some technical users to start downloading the code. Broad release though, has been slated for "mid-March," which by my calendar means it should come this week. Mary Jo Foley notes that Amazon appears to be expecting the retail version to be available this week as well.

Vista SP1 has been held up because of a problem in which some drivers don't work with the update. That appears to still be a problem, according to an e-mail I got last week when I queried about SP1's status.

"In mid-March, we will release Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Update and the download center on microsoft.com," Microsoft said in a statement. "Customers who visit Windows Update can choose to install Service Pack 1. Any system that Windows Update determines has a driver known to not upgrade successfully will not be offered SP1."

The company said that starting in "mid-April," it will start to push SP1 automatically to those Vista customers using the operating system's built-in automatic update option.

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