After a bewildering series of high-profile rumors about the supposed imminent release of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) appeared on various Windows news and rumors sites and blogs in the past few weeks, Microsoft took the unprecedented step this week of denying all of them. Reports suggested that Microsoft's previous timetable for Vista SP1, which would see a public beta by the end of 2007, were wrong; instead, we were told, Microsoft would ship SP1 in final form by the end of 2007 and would ship a beta in July. Then, reports of a so-called Vista SP1 WDK (Windows Driver Kit) download on the Microsoft Connect site triggered another round of wishful thinking and heady news reports.

All of this is, as it turns out, completely untrue. "There will be a Windows Vista service pack and our current expectation is that a beta will be made available sometime this year," a Microsoft spokesperson said, as first reported on Bink.nu. "Service packs are part of the traditional software lifecycle--they're something we do for all Microsoft products as part of our commitment to continuous improvement, and providing early test builds is a standard practice that helps us incorporate customer feedback and improve the overall quality of the product."

Here's what's really happening. Microsoft's previously-stated schedule for Vista SP1--a public beta in late 2007 with the final release next year--is still on track, and the company has never altered its schedule since announcing that plan. The company will, however, issue an early pre-release version of Vista SP1 to a limited group of external testers, as it always does, sooner than that. This will not constitute the start of the technical beta for Vista SP1, or mark a public beta release at all.

As for that Vista SP1 WDK, well, that was just a typo. What Microsoft actually posted was a WDK for Windows Server 2008, the upcoming successor to Windows Server 2003 R2.

I'll be sure to report on Windows Vista SP1 when there's actually something to report.