Vista First Aid KitThe Windows Connected Blog received an announcement today from Microsoft that they were told to share with everyone. It basically said that there will be no Vista SP1 Beta download available this week for the public, and that only a small set of testers will be receiving it. Here’s what the message said:

There will be a Windows Vista service pack and our current expectation is that a beta will be made available sometime this year. 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.

Service packs are just one example of the work we do to constantly improve the Windows experience. We also deliver improvements to Windows via Windows Update, which is an excellent channel for providing our customers with the most significant updates as they happen. And, since Windows Vista launched, we have continued working with partners to improve overall device coverage and application compatibility. There are now more than 2.1 million supported devices and more than 2,000 logoed applications for Windows Vista. We think customers will have a great experience using Windows Vista today.

In typical Microsoft fashion they refused to say when the public can expect to get their hands on the Beta, well, they did give a vague time frame of "this year". This is really disappointing because I know quite a few people who were looking forward to tinkering with the Beta, and I was definitely one of those people.

I think Microsoft is trying to be a lot more secretive because they see it working well for Apple. For example, Apple didn’t announce the iPhone until January 2007, and then released it about 7-months later. I’m sure that they were working on it for a long time prior to that, but they did a good job of keeping it secret. The reason why that is good is because they didn’t announce it until the development was nearly complete, and therefore they didn’t have to worry much about unexpected delays.

I don’t think it is a bad idea for Microsoft to go this route, but I always admired them for their openness. Sure they didn’t always hit their deadlines (yeah, Vista was delayed several years), but they kept us informed and they were able to listen to the feedback of the community.

What do you think? Is Microsoft better off keeping things to themselves or should they inform the community about what’s going on? I guess we can always count on things getting leaked though. :)