Microsoft has revealed the first real hint about when Windows Vista Service Pack 1 will be released. The American software giant said that it will have a beta version of the major Vista update out by the end of 2007. The final release will presumably follow in early 2008.

The announcement was made in a joint filing with the US Justice Department in reaction to an anti-trust battle with US software regulators.

The feeling of the court was that the new 'Instant Search' option in Windows Vista was putting rival programs like Google Desktop at a disadvantage. It basically removed the need for Vista users to install any other desktop search tool. And apparently that is a violation of the anti-trust accord that Microsoft signed in 2002.

So Microsoft has pledged to give Windows Vista users a choice of which desktop search program they use, and will ship the update inside Service Pack 1.

Service Pack 1 date

As part of the deal, Microsoft said it would add links in Internet Explorer and the Start menu to the user's chosen desktop search tool.