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Windows Vista Update Due, But Don't Expect A Panacea

Service Pack 1, due in the first quarter of 2008, will come with across-the-board improvements, but few new features.
HISTORY COULD REPEAT

If history is a guide, some businesses that have been considering Vista will move ahead once SP1 becomes available. "There's a pattern that SP1, for most Windows releases, has reduced the disruption to manageable levels," says Carl Weddle, director of IT at Quality Trailer Products, which runs Windows XP on its PCs. The manufacturing company will consider moving to Vista when SP1 becomes available--Microsoft's "targeting" the first quarter, but made no promises--but Weddle remains wary of the learning curve involved for users.

Windows XP continues to be the more widely used operating system in business. Microsoft last week announced that a third Windows XP service pack--Windows XP SP3--will be available in the first half of 2008. The only new feature in that update will be support for Network Access Protection, a security mechanism already in Vista that ensures that the operating system is updated and virus-free before allowing network access.

BROKEN APPS

Windows Vista SP1 won't be a panacea. The number of applications certified as Vista compatible has tripled, to 2,076, since January, and the number of device drivers supported has jumped about 50% to 2.2 million, but getting applications and devices to work can still be a headache. Gartner analyst Michael Silver says application incompatibilities continue to be the most common complaint he hears. SP1 can't possibly resolve all such compatibility problems.

Spectrum Laboratory Network couldn't get Outlook Web Access to work properly with Vista because of a problem with an ActiveX control. A Microsoft-provided patch didn't fix the glitch. Consequently, the medical testing company is supporting Vista only on a case-by-case basis, and it will continue to use XP on new PCs for the foreseeable future, says CIO David Moore. It's unclear if Windows Vista SP1 will solve Spectrum's application compatibility problems; Moore didn't hear anything last week that leads him to believe it will.

Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 share a common code base, and Microsoft plans to "unify the servicing" of the two, DeVaan said. But that will have to wait. Windows Server 2008 has been delayed by a few months, with release to manufacturing now pushed into the first quarter of 2008.

Windows Server 2008 "needs a little more time to bake," program manager Alex Hinrichs was quoted as saying by Microsoft's Windows Server blog. Someone needs to turn up the heat.