In a post on January 24, 2008, I discussed whether it was better to wait for the next Microsoft Windows OS or go to Vista once SP1 was released. Well, decision time may be on many of us, as Microsoft announced yesterday that they have made SP1 available for direct download and via Windows Update. An article in this month’s PCWorld stated that their tests had not revealed any significant speed improvements with SP1, which is not surprising based on what has been reported about beta versions in the past few months. As to whether you need it, PCWorld posits, “most users are likely to find Vista SP1 benign (if not beneficial).” High praise indeed.

As to device driver incompatibilities that might lead to problems using your older peripherals on your new Vista machines, Microsoft claims that most of these problems have been addressed, although they have “identified a small number of device drivers that may be problematic after an update from Windows Vista to Windows Vista SP1. ” They provide a list of those you should check out. Microsoft states that they are working on this list, but in the meantime,

“Windows Update will recognize PCs with drivers that may be problematic and postpone offering SP1 to those PCs until it has installed corrected drivers or other applicable updates. Either way, Windows Update works to detect whether or not your system is ready for SP1 and not offer it to you until the time is right.”

The bottom line here would appear to be that yesterday’s release does not fire the starting pistol for adoption of Vista; it may not be until next month or later that all the incompatibilities are addressed. I would recommend a continued wait and see position and check out the status of Vista when you reach your hardware upgrade cycle. Don’t wait too long, though; Microsoft has announced that the availability of XP for PC vendors and the retail market will end on June 30, 2008 (although system builder licenses will be available through January 31, 2009).

UPDATE (March 24, 2008): For a report on a blogger’s experience in installing SP1, and his recommendations, check out his post on Tech For Everyone.