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Despite Microsoft’s public statements about moving on from Windows Vista and Windows 7 looming in the near distance, could rumors that Microsoft is pushing to release Vista Service Pack 2 be seen as an last-ditch attempt to drum up sales for beleaguered operating system?

After unveiling Windows Vista SP1 in October, rumors abound that Vista SP2 will hit manufacturers by the end of the first half of 2009.

Malaysian Web site reports that, according to its sources, the operating system’s next service pack will land in April 2009. Mike Nash, Microsoft’s vice president of the Windows product line, said in a statement in October that Microsoft would wait to release SP2 only when the software giant was satisfied with customer and partner feedback.

“The final release date for Windows Vista SP2 will be based on quality. So we’ll track customer and partner feedback from the beta program before setting a final date for the release," Microsoft said in a statement.

Though Microsoft says it will take its time with SP2, it’s nothing compared to the wait for Windows XP SP3, which emerged almost four years after XP’s SP2.  

David Tan, CTO of CHIPS computer consulting, says after waiting years for XP’s SP2, the rumored Vista SP2 date seems like an incredibly fast turnaround. Tan adds that while he believes Microsoft might be trying to eke out a few more Vista sales, the giant is most likely just responding to the numerous complaints about the ill-fated OS.

“I’m sure they are hoping to change some of the final holdouts’ opinions before Windows 7 becomes a reality, but I also think they are probably trying to make the products as rock solid as possible for those who have adopted Vista, knowing [Vista adopters] are going to be the most likely adopters of Windows 7,” says Tan.

While the final release date is subject to much speculation, Microsoft has revealed details of new features available in SP2. It will include Windows Search 4.0, a Bluetooth 2.1 feature pack, the ability to record data to Blu-Ray media "natively" in Vista, a simplified tool for Wi-Fi configuration, and support for coordinated universal time (UTC) timestamps in the exFAT file system.

Microsoft also referenced support for “new types of hardware and several emerging standards,” though no further details were provided.

Whatever Microsoft’s motives, it’s unclear whether the quick turnaround on Vista SP2 will have any impact at all on the OS’s sales or adoption rate. With economic worries and IT budgets being slashed, most solution providers and customers will want to stick with the status quo for now.

“As far as further adoption of Vista, I think it will have a negligible impact at best.  I think it’s probably too late to really change people’s minds, particularly with buzz around Windows 7 starting to grow,” Tan says.