Microsoft released Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows XP Service Pack 3 to manufacturing in the first half of 2008, and subsequently made the service packs available both as standalone downloads and via Windows Update, Microsoft Update and Automatic Updates. Soon enough, there will be nowhere to hide from the final wave of Vista SP1 and XP SP3 that the Redmond company released through its update infrastructure. This because the software giant is gearing up for the expiration of the last barrier standing in the way of automatic downloads and upgrades to SP1 for Windows Vista and to SP3 for Windows XP, namely the Service Pack Blocker Tool.

“The Service Pack Blocker Tool temporarily prevents the installation of a service pack through Windows Update, typically for one year after general availability of the service pack. We are announcing the upcoming expiration dates for the Service Pack Blocker Tool for Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP3: Windows Vista SP1: April 28, 2009 – Windows XP SP3: May 19, 2009. After April 28th, Windows Vista SP1 will be delivered via Windows Update. And after May 19th, Windows XP SP3 will also be delivered via Windows Update,” revealed Brandon LeBlanc, Windows Communications Manager on the Windows Client Communications Team. More »

Vista SP1 did not do the trick for your RTM copy of the operating system? While such a scenario is highly unlikely, Microsoft is getting closer and closer to taking Windows Vista to the next level, again. Until Window 7 drops, users will be able to get their hands on Windows Vista Service Pack 2, currently planned for release in the first half of 2009. The first public taste of Vista SP2 is, in fact, already available for download, via the bits released as a part of the Customer Preview Program for Vista SP2 Beta and the Windows Server 2008 SP2 Beta, which debuted for MSDN and TechNet subscribers on December 2.

“Windows Vista SP2 is a traditional service pack release with all cumulative released security updates available since the SP1 release in March 2008. In addition, Windows Vista SP2 includes support for new types of hardware and emerging standards that will grow in importance in coming months, along with fixes discovered via automated error reporting as part of our Customer Experience Improvement program,” stated Celine Allee, director, Windows Client, on December 2, 2008. More »

Following the release of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 at the end of August 2008, Microsoft offered a toolset designed to permit advanced customization of the browser. Internet Explorer Administration Kit 8.0 Beta was dropped after the English, Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), and German localized versions of IE8. On September 16, the kit was updated to reflect the wave 2 of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 releases. Earlier this week Microsoft made available 21 new fully localized flavors of IE8 Beta 2, bringing the total number of language versions to 25.

“With the release of these additional languages, the IE8 IEAK can now build an additional 20 language packages. We’re excited to enable more users to download IE8 Beta 2 and use it in their native languages,” revealed Vishwac Sena Kannan, IE international program manager.

The September 16 release of Internet Explorer Administration Kit 8 Beta is tailored to the new span of IE8 Beta 2 language versions. The kit is designed to permit the customization of Microsoft’s latest iteration of the Internet Explorer browser. IEAK 8 Beta enables customized packages of IE8 Beta 2 to be put together, and this is valid for the many flavors of the browser. More »

Windows Vista, both the RTM and Service Pack 1 versions, can lose installed drivers in scenarios in which the computer is started via the Last Known Good Configuration feature. According to Microsoft not only Vista RTM/SP1 is affected, but also Windows Server 2008 RTM/SP1. Machines booted with the Last Known Good Configuration feature can have some .inf files removed from the %windir%\inf folder. In this context, the operating systems will also lose the installed drivers associated with the .inf files.

“These .inf files correspond to the drivers that are included with Windows. If you try to install a new device that uses an .inf file that has been deleted, you may receive an error message that resembles the following: “Driver not found.” If you try to reinstall the same version of driver that was originally serviced, the devices that use that .inf file may not work correctly,” Microsoft informed.

The Redmond company is offering no less than five updates designed to tackle these specific issues. The releases have been available for download since the end of the past week, and are tailored to both the 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Vista RTM/SP1, but also to the x86, x64 and Itanium-based Systems variants of Windows Server 2008. The updates will bring the platforms out of the inconsistent status generated by starting the computer with the Last Known Good Configuration feature. More »

Microsoft has warned end users that performing Windows XP Service Pack 3 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1 upgrades from copies of XP SP2 and Vista RTM, respectively, that have Onekey Recovery 5.0 installed will cause the operating systems to display a black screen following reboot. According to the Redmond company, the issue is generated by an incompatibility between the two service pack releases and Saming OneKey recovery software driver Safnt.sys.

This means that deploying SP1 on top of Vista RTM, or SP3 on top of XP SP2, with Onekey Recovery 5.0 also installed, will result in a black screen of death. Microsoft revealed that this scenario would happen whether the service pack upgrade is performed from Windows Update or through any other method. “This issue occurs when the computer contains Onekey recovery software that is earlier than version 5.1. If the computer uses the Onekey recovery software version 5.1 or later versions, this issue does not occur,” the company revealed, explaining that “Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP2 are incompatible with Onekey Recovery 5.0.” More »