Windows Vista is finally here… but Windows XP SP3 will be 4 years too late

They did it! Microsoft finally released Windows Vista to manufacturing today but I have to say I’m a little underwhelmed. Not with the Vista product, which on one level is a great achievement (although I’ve written before about how I’m struggling to find a compelling reason for corporate users to upgrade), but with the way that us Windows XP users have been treated in the interim period.

A few years back, in common with many IT Managers, I signed up to a Microsoft Select agreement including software assurance (SA), but we’ve had no operating system upgrades since Windows XP was launched in 2001 – 5 long years during which our agreements have long since expired (in fact, I left that particular company almost four years ago!).

Sure, we had a pretty major security overhaul in Windows XP service pack 2 (SP2), but that was over two years ago. Last year I speculated about the imminent arrival of Windows XP service pack 3 (SP3), only to be proved wrong and to learn that it was scheduled for 2007. Then, a couple of weeks back, Thomas Lee highlighted that this, long overdue, service pack is now expected in 2008.

I know that many organisations are still trying to swallow SP2 but 4 years to wait for a service pack is just too long (4 years is the expected period between major operating system releases, not a service pack – service packs should be shipped every 6-12 months and should consist of bug fixes, but not new functionality).

Windows Vista will soon be available to volume license subscribers and will soon be the standard for new PCs, but there will be many of us running Windows XP for quite some time yet. Sure, I can download a bunch of individual updates, but surely Microsoft can get a Windows client service pack out of the door sooner than 2008 (Windows Server 2003 SP2 is still scheduled for next spring).

Thanks Microsoft, for your valiant efforts to ship Windows Vista. It’s been a long time coming and I should really be pleased, especially as the media reports that future Windows releases won’t be so spread out; but now, for those of us who paid for SA that we never got the opportunity to use, how about another service pack that we don’t have to wait an age for…

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