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Microsoft Pulls Vista SP1 - Wait, no they Don't

Last week Microsoft pulled a pre-requisite update for Vista systems (required before they can install Service Pack 1) while they investigate the cause of a number of serious system failures that have been attributed to the update (KB information here.

This was misinterpreted by some to be Microsoft pulling the entire Service Pack 1 for Vista, something which they aren't doing, though there are ongoing reports of SP1 not playing nicely with a range of common software - particularly security software.

Despite only a small number of the overall install base being affected by the update's misbehaviour, Microsoft have taken the conservative option and temporarily suspended the update until such time that they can ensure the safety of end users and their systems.

All may not be completely rosy with the full SP1, either, with limited reports of users losing effective control of their system following application of SP1 and reverting to installing Windows XP on their systems. Since SP1 hasn't been released to the general public, it is a number of the Technet users (who staged an online riot to even get access to it) who have had trouble with the system after installing it.

These isolated reports are nothing new for major system updates (Apple and Linux vendors have faced similar problems when issuing system updates - it is almost impossible to issue something that will run exactly the same across many different system configurations), and it may just be that most of the userbase who will end up suffering negative effects from installing the Service Pack are those who have already had access to it. Most users may be unaffected as they are running systems that are effectively 'stock'.

Where there is a problem, however, is with the reports of the security software that will be disabled / severely reduced in functionality following application of SP1. This isn't completely unexpected as Microsoft has provided detailed (for them) information about the sort of system hooks that are available for third parties to hook their software into (critical for security software that effectively replaces core kernel API hooks).

This latest issue may cause the greatest problem for the everyday user once SP1 is installed, and with only about a month until it is available for all users it is going to be an interesting couple of weeks post-availability to see if Microsoft were able to find the right balance between system improvement and avoiding disabling common software.

25 February 2008

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