Make no mistake about it. The final bits of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 are available for download, but this does not mean that end users can get their grabby hands all over the service pack. Released to manufacturing on February 4, 2008, alongside Windows Server 2008, Vista SP1's general availability was pushed back all the way to mid-March. The first service pack for the latest Windows client was leaked after the code went gold (even though it was finalized
as early as Vista SP1 Release Candidate Refresh 2) and is up for grabs on Torrentwebsites and peer-to-peer file sharing networks to any user with a BitTorrent client. But not directly from Microsoft.
In addition, there are a number of customers that have been permitted full access to Vista SP1 RTM. Responding to negative feedback from both Vista users, Beta testers and partners, Microsoft essentially backpedaled on its initial release dates for the service pack. Mike Nash, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Windows Product Management, underlined the fact that the company has opened up access to the gold Bits of Vista SP1, not only to its OEM partners but also to the participants in the Beta testing process of the service pack. Immediately following RTM, Vista SP1 shipped only to original equipment manufacturers and entered the production stage of the Vista SP1 DVDs. The first OEM computers preloaded with Vista SP1 as well as the media containing the operating system plus the first service pack will hit the shelves in April.
In the meantime, Microsoft also published an ISO image of Vista SP1 to its OEM website, but discontinued the download and pointed to February 22 for the date when the service pack will be served again. This week, the company's Volume Licensing customers will also be getting Vista SP1 RTM, but it appears that they won't be the only ones. "Windows Vista SP1 anticipated to be available to MSDN Subscribers by end of week. We heard you. Look for it in the Top Downloads list by end of week," reads a message from a member of the MSDN Subscription program. Microsoft was planning to drop Vista SP1 to MSDN and TechNet Plus subscribers by the end of February.
This only means that if you are a Vista end user, you just got stuck with the short stick after not even been allowed to draw. Outside of the selected Vista SP1 RTM "aristocracy", end users will be able to download the service pack starting in mid-March via Microsoft Update, Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center, and in mid-April through Automatic Updates.