In the next few weeks, Microsoft will start private testing of a beta of Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Vista as well as a third service pack for Windows XP. The company plans initially to release the beta only to 10,000 pre-selected testers, though it may expand that release later. A small group of testers are already working with a "beta preview" version.
As for what's in the Vista update, it's mostly a collection of existing fixes and tweaks aimed at improving the stability and reliability of the operating system, which went on sale to consumers in January.
"It is not a delivery vehicle for lots of features," said Shanen Boettcher, a general manager in the Windows unit.
There are a few minor enhancements, most notably the ability to encrypt multiple hard-drive partitions using Vista's BitLocker feature.
"Lots of folks gave feedback that 'We have an OS partition and a data partition and we'd like to encrypt both'," Boettcher said.