We announced the availability of Windows Vista SP1 this week. You can find out more about it on the Windows Vista Team Blog

There is a detailed white paper available that takes you through the beta, but thanks to the Windows Vista Team Blog, here are the main points:

What is SP1?  What is it not?

In addition to updates we’ve previously released, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues we’ve identified via customer feedback, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards.  SP1 also makes additional improvements to the IT administration experience.  We didn’t design SP1 as a vehicle for releasing new features; however, some existing components do gain enhanced functionality in SP1.

More information on what’s included in SP1 can be found in the detailed white paper.

When can I get my hands on the Beta of SP1?

A Beta release of Windows Vista SP1 is slated for availability in the next few weeks.  A small group of testers has been putting a preview of the SP1 Beta through its paces to help prepare for broader release.  We made the choice to start with a very small group of testers because we think it’s better for both our customers and for Microsoft to keep the beta program small at the start.

A later pre-release of SP1 will be available to a larger group of testers  via MSDN and TechNet subscribers.

And what about SP1 itself -- when will that be available?

We're targeting releasing SP1 to manufacturing in the first quarter of 2008, but as always, we’re first and foremost focused on delivering a high-quality release, so we'll determine the exact release date of SP1 after we have reached that quality bar. (FYI, in case you didn’t already know:  the Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 engineering efforts are aligned, so the Server team also said on their blog today that they are targeting the first quarter of 2008 for their release to manufacturing.)