Microsoft has confirmed plans to ship the first service pack update for Windows Vista in the first quarter of 2008.

The third and final service pack for its predecessor, Windows XP, will ship during the first half of next year.

David Zipkin, a senior product manager for Windows Vista, said the first operating system update will boost performance and fix nagging reliability problems.

A beta release of Vista SP1 will ship next month to no more than 15,000 users, Zipkin added. "As far as service packs go," said Gartner Inc. analyst Stephen Kleynhans, "this is middle of the road -- not too risky and relatively uneventful."