Way back when, one of the touted benefits of Windows Vista was that then-future updates, including service packs and hot-fixes, could be very easily "slipstreamed," or integrated, into the Vista install image, create an always up-to-date install image that would be used going forward. How easy was it supposed to be? Microsoft placed a convenient UPDATE folder right in the root of the Vista install image and claimed that any fixes you wanted to integrate simply needed to be copied into that folder. Voila! An integrated, slipstreamed Vista install image.

As I explained in great detail back in September 2007, in Inside Windows Vista Service Pack 1, however, this technical nirvana remains but a dream. Because of "some unexpected issues with the servicing stack," as Microsoft put it, this drag-and-drop form of slipstreaming never happened for SP1. I was told at the time that Microsoft was hoping to make it available for SP2, but no promises.

But what about SP1? During the same meeting that led to Inside Windows Vista Service Pack 1, Microsoft told me that customers interested in slipstreaming SP1 with Vista could still use the old -integrate method of slipstreaming (which I document in my XP SP2 slipstreaming guide). Fair enough: This process is well known and has had years of success. But then, that's true of the pre-WIM world. Vista, you see, uses a different servicing model than XP and previous NT-based versions of Windows. So things are a bit more complicated.

What's funny is that news about how SP1 would be slipstreamed into Vista never seemed to reach most people. Yes, I wrote about this back in September, but it's like the world suddenly just woke up, looked around, and realized something had changed. But Microsoft is finally broadcasting the situation to users. You can see the latest example of this in Kevin Remde's TechNet blog:

You can't just do an offline upgrade to an image .WIM file.You are going to have to install your image to a machine.  Install the Service Pack.  Then re-capture the image. There are additional steps that involve some cleanup once you've sysprepped your newly updated SP1 machine.  Detailed steps are available in the new WAIK documentation. If you're using the WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit), you will definitely want to get the new version that has support for both the original Vista as well as the new servicing layer that's in both Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008.

So there you have it. I'll be working on making this as simple as possible and hope to have a slipstreaming guide for Vista and SP1 soon. Something tells me this is something that's going to have to be updated regularly. Hopefully, they get it right for SP2.

BTW: Shame on Neowin for posting Kevin's blog post as if it originated on their site. I can't stand when it's not obvious where something comes from. (The abhorrent use of Continue at Source, not actually hyperlinked, is another non-Neowin example of this kind of theft.)