Vista SP1 Available in Mid-March

At this very moment, the OEM partners of Microsoft are busy creating new images of Windows Vista SP1 to be pre-installed in all new PC’s. Microsoft has gone RTM (release to manufacturing) with Windows Vista SP1.

Is it a big deal? Not really. A service pack doesn’t pack the same punch anymore. Let me explain. In the stone ages, where Internet access wasn’t prevalent, a service pack for let’s say Window NT Server was a godsend. It had all the security fixes and enhancements rolled up together, and was necessary for new deployments. But today you no longer have to wait for a service pack to get the most important updates. With the Internet, you can download them and deploy them instantly (after testing of course).

With Vista, you could actually roll out the new operating system without ever applying SP1 at this point in time. This is because almost all companies are connected to the Internet, and Microsoft has been delivering Vista bugs & security fixes for over a year. You are already getting the updates on a regular basis.

Additionally, you also get hardware and software updates from Microsoft through its Automatic Windows Update services. Basically, as you continue to download updates, fixes, hardware & software, and driver updates, Vista is getting stronger, day-by-day, month-by-month.

With Windows Vista SP1, Microsoft took feedback from the Customer Experience Improvement Program, online crash analysis, and Windows error reporting to really learn what the major issues are with Vista and the applications that run on the platform.

Here is a high level of what will be included in Windows Vista SP1:

  • With SP1, you will now be able to copy and move files on your PC, home network, and corporate network much faster than pre-SP1. According to Microsoft, you could see as much as 50% improvement.

  • A Windows Vista SP1 computer will awake faster from sleep mode than pre- SP1.

  • SP1 will rollup all bugs, security fixes, hot fixes, and anything else that was released via Windows Update.

  • SP1 includes support for emerging hardware and standards such as Wireless N, exFat files system, Secure Digital, DirectX 10.1, etc.

  • Microsoft will realign the service packs of Windows Vista with Windows Server 2008. In the future, service packs will be released for both Vista and Server 2008 since they share the same kernel.

  • SP1 will contain BitLocker drive encryption support for non-system disks.

  • SP1 will contain improvements to local printing from Terminal Services.

  • SP1 adds support for x64 EFI network boot.

  • Disk Defragmenter has a user interface to choose which volume will be automatically defragmented.

  • SP1 adds support to enable new types of Windows Media Center Extenders, such as digital televisions and networked DVD players, to connect to Windows Media Center PCs.

  • SP1 adds support for creating a single DVD media that boots on PCs with either BIOS or EFI.

  • SP1 adds support for SD Advanced DMA (ADMA) on compliant SD standard host controllers. This new transfer mechanism, which is expected to be supported in SD controllers soon, will improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization.

  • SP1 adds support for Direct3D 10.1, an update to Direct3D 10 that extends the API to support new hardware features, enabling 3D application and game developers to make more complete and efficient use of the upcoming generations of graphics hardware.

  • SP1 adds support for new UEFI (unified extensible firmware interface) industry standard PC firmware for 64-bit systems with functional parity with legacy BIOS firmware, which allows Vista SP1 to install to GPT format disks, boot and resume from hibernate using UEFI firmware.

  • SP1 improves the time to read large images by approximately 50%.

  • SP1 improves the performance of browsing network file shares by consuming less bandwidth.

For a more detailed list, please download, Windows Vista SP guides.

As far as deployment is concerned, when downloading and installing SP1, you will have three download methods. They are:

  • Express
  • Standalone
  • Slipstream

The Express installation will require an Internet connection but minimizes the download size by sending only the changes needed for a specific computer. The standalone installation is about 1 GB in size and allows you to install Windows SP1 without an Internet connection. Finally, the Slipstream version will come with a new the operating system. You will be able to install Windows Vista on a new machine with SP1 already included.

As far as a timeline is concerned, according to Mike Nash, PM Windows Product Management group at Microsoft, “In mid-March, we will release Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Update (in English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese) and to the download center on Customers who visit Windows Update can choose to install Service Pack 1. If Windows Update determines that the system has one of the drivers we know to be problematic, then Windows Update will not offer SP1. Since we know that some customers may want to update to SP1 anyhow, the download center will allow anyone who wants to install SP1 to do so.”

Steven Warren is an IT consultant for the Ultimate Software Group and a freelance technical writer who has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic, TechProGuild, CNET, ZDNET, and CIO Update. He the author of The VMware Workstation 5.0 Handbook and holds the following certifications: MCDBA, MCSE, MCSA, CCA, CIW-SA, CIW-MA, Network+, and i-Net+.