Microsoft has released what it called 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 programme 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 about incompatibilities with 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.

"The least they could have done was have it working with Vista in time for the launch," said PC Advisor reader Kate B, on PC Advisor's Vista forum in February. "It's not as though the OS has crept up on them. Jobs should remember that the iPod really took off when they made it compatible with Windows."

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