There has rarely been an operating system so in need of its first service pack as Windows Vista, but all you poor sufferers out there know relief is on the way: SP1 has been released to manufacturing (RTM).
For those not familiar with the term, RTM is the last stage before a product is rolled out to consumers. In the case of SP1 it means Microsoft has supplied OEMs and they can get to work installing it on new PCs. As for mass market availability, this will come when English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese language versions of SP1 are set loose on Windows Update in mid-March. Other languages will appear in April.
"Service Pack 1 is a very important milestone because it addresses many of the key issues that our customers have identified with Windows Vista over the last year both, directly and through programs like the Customer Experience Improvement Program.," said Mike Nash, a member of the Windows Product Management Group, on the official Vista Blog. "With Service Pack 1, we have made great progress in performance, reliability and compatibility."
For those wanting more than the CliffsNotes, you'd be wise to check out our SP1 First Impressions Review while Microsoft has also made available a monstrous document containing the full list of changes.
Be warned, should you finish it you need to get out more.