The word is out - Windows Vista SP1 (code-named "Fiji") will be out before the end of the year - and will probably be available in beta form next week. The trouble is, details of the exact features in "Fiji" are about as scarce as the fate of Harry Potter in his final adventure, also due out this month. Will Harry Potter live? Will Windows Vista get faster? Does Voldemort moonlight as a computer hacker? Dunno - yet.
But seriously, folks, there are already a lot of fixes and workarounds available for Windows Vista. Windows Update (of course) downloads bunches of them every week, but some updates are hotfixes aimed at specific problems just waiting to catch the unwary. Consider the following: you're ready to chuck your wimpy ATAPI DVD rewriter and pick up one of the new SATA models. Don't do it until you review Microsoft Knowledge Base article 928253 and configure your PC to use PATA emulation instead of the default AHCI chipset configuration for your SATA host adapter, or download a hotfix.
Or, how about this: you thought you'd love using a fast IEEE-1394 (FireWire) external hard disk, but every time you wake up your system after you connected it, you get clobbered with a DRIVER_POWER_STATE_FAILURE Stop error. There's a fix for that too: see Knowledge Base article 929762.
I don't have time to check the MS Knowledge Base every day to find out what's happening with Windows Vista updates, but Ethan Allen apparently does. He runs theHotfix.net website, where he's compiled a list of over 100 Vista fixes at the Windows Vista SP1 Preview Information Center, including the two listed above. Allen put together all of the fixes into a single download, and promptly got into hot water with the folks in Redmond. The so-called "Vista SP1 Preview Pack" is now available only from the forum and only for registered users.
How accurate is Allen's list in reflecting what will actually be in SP1? I think it's likely that at least some of the hotfixes Allen's compiled will make it into SP1, along with a lot of other improvements. But although I'm not crazy about the name of his site, it's still a useful resource. It sure beats wading through the Microsoft Knowledge Base yourself.
I'll discuss the features of the real SP1 when it's available - and in the meantime, you can wonder along with everyone else (including me!)about what will happen to Harry Potter.