In the analysis, titled “Vista SP1 is important, but less so than SPs of the past,” Gartner research vice president Michael A. Silver said, "Windows client service packs are important, but not as important as they used to be. Integrate Windows Vista SP1 if possible, but don't delay plans waiting for it."
Many organizations often wait until Microsoft releases the first service pack on new operating systems before deployment, he said. But Microsoft "has become adept at deploying updates through services like Windows Update, Microsoft Update and Automatic Update, so SPs are now less important than they once were."
Another factor in play: "Many organizations have highly complex PC environments and would not be ready to deploy Vista before [the second half of 2008], so SPI will not be in the critical path form them," Silver said.
He cited advantages to skipping the initial release of a Microsoft OS and adopting an SP1. Most importantly, he said, "Microsoft will only support the prior SP for 12 to 24 months after the next SP ships (in this case, 24 months)."
That means that if Microsoft ships Vista SP1 in the first quarter of 2008, it will support the original Vista release until just the first quarter of 2010.
In the report, Silver also said organizations planning to stick with Windows XP until mid-2010 should "plan to test and deploy" XP Service Pack 3, due out the first half of next year. "It should be significantly less work than testing and deploying SP2," he said.