April is apparently coming early this year.
Microsoft has abruptly changed its tune on when Service Pack 1 will start showing up on retail shelves. Microsoft said it has started shipping the full retail versions of the product as of Tuesday (in addition to making it available for download). That means that Amazon.com is indeed going to be able to start sending out copies on Wednesday, as it had billed on its Web site.
As of Monday, Microsoft told CNET News.com that retail boxed copies would not be available until "as soon as April." Apparently that information was inaccurate.
"Initially, we targeted April as a conservative estimate for Windows Vista SP1 retail availability for full packaged product," Microsoft said in a new statement on Tuesday. "We were actually able to ship sooner than originally anticipated--today, in fact. Customers should expect to see Windows Vista SP1 (boxed copies) online and on store shelves as soon as retailers can make them available--in Amazon's case, starting tomorrow."
As far as when SP1 shows up preloaded on new PCs, Microsoft apparently still thinks that will take until next month in most cases.
"We released Windows Vista SP1 to manufacturers on February 4," Microsoft said. "Since then, retailers have been working to build PCs with Windows Vista SP1 and make them available to consumers as soon as possible. Based on what we understand from our partners in retail and OEMs, April is our best estimate for availability for PCs with SP1. However, there will be certain exceptions based on individual companies' distribution models."