The update includes more than 300 fixes, including security patches for Internet Explorer, Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows Media player, as well as a number of data-protection features. The full list of fixes is available on Microsoft's TechNet site.
Microsoft revealed that Vista SP1 will be available in mid-March via Windows Update as well as the download center on Microsoft.com.
The Redmond, Wash.-based computing titan has also created Vista SP1 DVDs for distribution to enterprise subscribers to the company's volume licensing program. New PCs with SP1 installed will be sold in retail outlets in the coming months, Microsoft Windows product manager Mike Nash noted in a blog post.
“[The release is an] important milestone because it addresses many of the key issues that our customers have identified with Windows Vista over the last year,” he said.
Microsoft disclosed last summer that Windows XP Service Pack 3 will also be released during the first quarter of this year.
Analyst firm Gartner last year advised companies planning to deploy Vista not to wait for the release of SP1.
Enhancements to Vista fall into three categories: quality improvements, administration upgrades and support for new hardware and standards, according to Microsoft's Vista blogger, Brandon LeBlanc.
“SP1 will include all previously released updates for Windows Vista. It also will include security, reliability and performance improvements," he said.