Microsoft has released what it calls the "final" Vista fix for a problem that iPod owners had been having with the new operating system since its 30 January launch.

"[This] works with the latest version of Apple iTunes to correct an issue that caused some iPods to become corrupted when ejecting them using Windows Explorer or the 'Safely Remove Hardware' function in the System Tray," said Nick White, a Vista program manager, on the team's blog. "Apple and Windows have partnered together to ensure a great experience in using Windows Vista with iTunes and the iPod, and both companies recommend you download this update."

White's current congenial attitude was in stark contrast to the situation in February, when within days of Vista's general availability, Apple warned Windows iTunes users to delay upgrading to Vista.

In March, after Apple updated iTunes to patch several Vista-related problems while leaving the Safely Remove Hardware bug unfixed, Microsoft posted an iPod fix of its own. Today's fix is an update to that March patch.

Apple and Microsoft have each collected their share of user scorn about the drawn-out updates. Reader comments on a March Computerworld article, for example, took both companies to task. "I don't think Apple is responsible for the Safely Remove Hardware bug," wrote a reader identified only as Anonymous. "The last time I checked, USB mass storage drivers aren't part of the iTunes codebase."

"The last time I checked, Apple had Vista for months and months before release and could have easily worked with Microsoft on a fix for this," replied another reader, identified as Matthew Simpson.

Although the Vista iPod patch will be made available to users 22 May at Windows Update, it can be downloaded from Microsoft's site immediately.