Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista SP1 released to manufacturing

The party is on for February 27th, as Microsoft confirms its star attraction, Windows Server 2008, will be released on time. Admins everywhere may now be breathing a sigh of relief.

There will be no delay from here on out in Microsoft's release of Windows Server 2008. As one of the company's "heroes" for its gala rollout party in Los Angeles in just over three weeks' time, WS2K8 will arrive neither early like its "hero" partner Visual Studio 2008, or late like SQL Server 2008, which will actually ship at least six months after it "launches."

The Windows Server Division blog this morning went so far as to post someone in the actual ship room to eyewitness the first moments of WS2K8 packaging being rolled out of the factory.

"In the final days leading up to RTM, the tone in the war room meetings was calm, almost too calm because there were minimal bugs to resolve and final testing went very smoothly," wrote the team's roving correspondent. "We focused on testing of the code changes made in Nov/Dec to make sure nothing regressed."

Meanwhile, though heroic status has not been attributed to Windows Vista Service Pack 1, it could very well become one of the more welcomed attractions this quarter. This morning, product manager Mike Nash announced on his team's blog, in a rather lengthy and carefully worded post, that SP1 will not be rolled out in the traditional sense, so much as gently provoked out into the market.

"The key learning over the last year is that when we change the operating system, it takes time to let the ecosystem make sure that the hardware and software that they build works well with Windows Vista," states the key writing of Nash. "So as we release Windows Vista SP1 to manufacturing, we are going to be thoughtful about when and how it gets distributed."

The problem this time is avoiding giving the impression to Vista users that SP1 is being inflicted upon them somehow, the way doctors force their patients to only take the medication they prescribe. So beginning in mid-March, Nash said, Vista will be made available first and only through Microsoft Update, whose older name is Windows Update and which Nash referred to as "Windows Update." That way, the first batch of SP1 downloaders will be those who request SP1 directly rather than automatically.

Assuming all's going well, SP1 will be made available through Automatic Updates the following month, but only to customers whose installed drivers are not on a list of those found to not be compatible with SP1. This way, customers don't go to work one morning and find they can't log onto their "upgraded" systems.

Once incompatible drivers are fixed or replaced, then systems with those drivers can download SP1, Nash said. "The result is that more and more systems will automatically get SP1, but only when we are confident they will have a good experience," he wrote.

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