The operating system update includes more than 300 hot fixes for everything from data protection to video performance.
Microsoft said Monday that it has released the first major update for its Windows Vista operating system to manufacturing, meaning the software will be ready for general distribution in the coming weeks.
Windows Vista Service Pack 1, as the update is called, features a number of enhancements designed to make the OS more stable, secure, and efficient. It includes more than 300 hot fixes covering everything from data protection to video performance.
Vista SP1 will be available in mid-March through Microsoft's online Windows Update service and through the download center on Microsoft.com.
Microsoft has also begun burning Vista SP1 DVDs for distribution to business customers who subscribe to the company's volume licensing program. New personal computers with Vista SP1 will start showing up in stores "in the coming months," said Microsoft Windows product manager Mike Nash, in a blog post Monday.
All this comes with a caveat, however. Nash said Microsoft has learned that Vista SP1 is not compatible with "a small set of device drivers" used by some PCs. Vista SP1 won't install on those PCs until an update is available for the drivers, Nash said.
Windows Vista SP1 includes a wide range of updates to the original version of Vista, which debuted a year ago.
Among them: a fix for a problem in which optical disks turn blank after being formatted with Vista's Live File System, a patch for a glitch that generates an error message when large files are copied from one Vista-based computer to another over a network, and an update designed to improve Vista's speed when it's operating on a computer linked to a virtual private network.
Other updates are meant to improve Internet Explorer's streaming video performance and prevent data loss in USB devices connected to Vista PCs. There's also a fix that adds a Venezuelan time zone.
Some of the fixes are already available to the public as individual downloads, while others will only be released as part of the final version of Vista SP1.
Unfortunately for some Vista users -- especially those running custom business apps -- the service pack will not fix some application compatibility problems that affect the current version of Vista.
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