Vista SP1 goes live on Automatic Updates, but gradually

It's apparently safe to try this now: Microsoft stated this afternoon it's going forward with plans to deploy Windows Vista Service Pack 1 via Automatic Updates.

But today's go-ahead won't mean that users will wake up one morning and suddenly find themselves upgraded (or not), or even that SP1 will find itself deployed all in the same morning.

Beginning today, according to Microsoft's Chris Flores this afternoon, some Vista users with Automatic Updates turned on will begin to see SP1 downloaded automatically. Apparently distribution is being staggered in order to prevent a mass occurrence of driver incompatibility, or a situation where tens of thousands of users find themselves stuck in an endless reboot cycle.

"While Microsoft is beginning automatic distribution today, it's important to note that customers might not see the update download right away since Microsoft is distributing the Service Pack in phases to ensure a seamless download experience," another Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews this afternoon.

Although SP1 may download automatically, it will not install itself automatically, according to Flores: "After Windows Vista SP1 downloads, [Windows Update] will let you know that 'new updates are available.' You'll then be asked to make a few clicks before the installation of SP1 will begin."

A post to the Microsoft Update Product Team blog last week advises administrators whose offices use Windows Update -- Microsoft's manual download service -- that they can deploy a device called the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit, to disable individual users' ability to select, download, and deploy Vista SP1 before admins are ready for it.

A separate SP1 upgrading procedure for enterprises using Windows Server Update Services -- which deploys upgrades from in-house servers -- was posted last month.

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