Vista SP1 March Microsoft just made a big announcement today stating that Vista SP1 has been completed and was released to manufacturing. Unfortunately Microsoft is holding off on making the Vista SP1 download generally available until the middle of March because of some driver issues reported by some testers. Here’s what the release schedule looks like for Vista SP1 along with the reasoning they are holding off on the distribution for at least a month:

With today’s RTM of SP1, a number of processes kick off as we deliver the update to customers.  Our OEM partners will get SP1 and start producing new PCs running Windows Vista with SP1 pre-installed.  We will also start the manufacturing process for retail product of Windows Vista with SP1.  Both will be available in stores for new Windows Vista customers in the coming months.  Today we also start the process to manufacture DVDs for our enterprise customers who get our software via our Volume Licensing program.

As we update our customers to SP1, we want everyone to have a great install experience.  We are going to stage our rollout of SP1 for current Windows Vista users to be approximately concurrent with the availability of Windows Vista SP1 on new PCs and in stores.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  Our beta testing identified an issue with a small set of device drivers.  These drivers do not follow our guidelines for driver installation and as a result, some beta participants who were using Windows Vista and updated to Service Pack 1 reported issues with these devices.  Because the issue was with the way the drivers were installed and not the drivers themselves, the solution was simply to reinstall the drivers.  While this worked fine for our more technical beta testers, we want to deliver a better experience for customers as we make the update broadly available.

Microsoft is actually smart in delaying the Vista SP1 download because it is bound to leak within the next day or two. Power users will undoubtedly scour the BitTorrent network for the download so that they can be among the first adopters. Why’s that good for Microsoft? Think about all of the bandwidth they are going to save!

There’s still no word on what the official Vista SP1 build number is, but there is some speculation that it is 6001.18000.080126-2040 or possibly 6001.18000.080131-1830. The existence of both of those builds have not been confirmed, but there are rumors that a serious bug was found in the privately released Vista SP1 RC Refresh 2. At any rate, before you can install the final Vista SP1 build you’ll need to uninstall any previous versions.