has announced the dates for availability of Office 2007 Service Pack 1 and for the public beta of Windows Vista Service Pack 1.
Office 2007 is due to get a shot in the arm on Tuesday 11th December. Although Microsoft is keeping exact details of the contents of the Service Pack a closely guarded secret (because we love
installing unknown executables to do unspecified things, don't you know?) fixes are thought to include improved backwards compatibility with older Office file formats, better documentation for Object Model coders, enhanced support for Visual Studio Tools for Office v3.0, and support for the .NET Framework v3.5.
Possibly the only visible change for your average office user is a rumoured 'upgrade' to the animated text facility in PowerPoint 2007.
To allay corporate fears over installing a Service Pack without proper testing, Microsoft will not be deploying Office 2007 SP1 via Automatic Updates; this will be a strictly manual install.
For those of you who like your Microsoft products to be on the real bleeding edge, or possibly if you're just stuck with Vista and want to iron out some of the more obnoxious bugs, the Release Candidate version of Vista Service Pack 1 will be available in this coming week from the Microsoft Download Center
This beta release will allow members of the public a chance to trial the fixes and features introduced in SP1 ahead of the official release next year. Bugs hopefully quashed by the überpatch include a fix for the oft-encountered problems with sleep mode, improvements to the bandwidth-killing CIFS implementation, support for the new exFAT filesystem, and a new Secure Socket Tunnelling Protocol for use with virtual private networks.
As with prior Windows Service Packs, the final version of SP1 will be rolled out via Automatic Updates. Microsoft has said it will be making a 'blocking' utility available for customers who would prefer a choice over when such a major update is ready for installation, as it did for Windows XP SP2.
A note for those who are counting the days 'till they can get their mitts on the SP1 Release Candidate: Microsoft has confirmed that you will need to uninstall SP1 RC1 before you'll be able to upgrade to the official version when it's released.
Those of you still using Windows XP will have more of a wait on their hands; Microsoft has scheduled the performance-enhancing Service Pack 3 for Windows XP Home and Professional for mid-2008, a far cry from the original release date of late 2007, even though there have been betas out in the wild for some time.
Will you be installing Vista SP1 RC? Are you a 'select' customer or MSDN subscriber and already have it installed? Let us know via the forums