Vista SP1 could show up as early as February 15

The first service pack for Windows Vista may be just three short weeks away, if a report by PC World is to be believed. The report says both industry analysts and a Taiwanese news outlet have quoted a February 15 release date, and it adds that "sources who work closely with Microsoft" believe a release in the middle of next month is indeed "not unlikely."

Microsoft's official release time frame for the service pack spans the entire first quarter of this year, and the company has so far declined to give more precise estimates. Nonetheless, PC World says signs point to an imminent release of the service pack. Namely, the SP1 release candidate that came out last month is said to be quite polished, and a senior software consultant for a Microsoft partner told PC World, "I can't see why [the final release] wouldn't be out soon."

Vista SP1 is expected to bring performance and reliability improvements, as well as support for new hardware and software technologies, including DirectX 10.1, the exFAT file system, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Intel's Extensible Firmware Interface BIOS replacement. Some functionality changes will be on the menu, as well, such as less restrictive behavior with "non-genuine" installations and the ability to choose different desktop search software (like Google Desktop).

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