Testing Windows Vista SP1 RTM Code

Although I don’t currently recommend Vista, I will continue to cover new versions of Microsoft’s operating system. I can’t very well recommend against a version of Windows without testing its latest service pack. You never know, perhaps some future version of Vista might win me over.

But not this one. While I need more time with the SP1 code, my first few days with the final version of Vista’s first service pack were, well, underwhelming. The one thing that I can definitively say at this point is that if you secretly installed Vista SP1 on a friend’s PC while he or she was out to lunch, 9 out of 10 friends wouldn’t have a clue when they came back.

Perhaps the biggest change to Vista that comes out of SP1 is the elimination of the anti-piracy mechanism the press has dubbed the “Kill switch” and that Microsoft termed “Reduced Functionality Mode.” Whatever you call it, it was designed to automatically render a Vista installation all but unusable if Vista’s Software Protection Platform (anti-piracy protection) software deems that copy of Vista to be pirated. For more information on the Vista Kill Switch and how it worked in the original version of Vista, please see this Computerworld story, The Skinny on Windows SPP and Reduced Functionality in Vista.

I started testing Vista SP1 with the initial beta, released early last fall. And I’ll continue to work with it to see what I can see. The software is supposedly not going to be generally available for another five weeks or so.

One of the ironies for Microsoft and Vista users is that SP1 of any version of Windows usually makes the driver pack usable for most people. But in testing SP1, Microsoft discovered that some drivers installed in a specific way (I’m guessing on drives built by OEM PC makers), there are conflicts with SP1. So, according to Microsoft, the drivers are in most cases OK, but they may need to be reinstalled after you install SP1. (For more information from Microsoft’s Mike Nash, see this Windows Vista Team Blog post.

In my tests with two pre-existing Vista installations (I haven’t clean installed SP1 yet), there were zero installation problems. My driver problems were no better or worse than prior to installing Vista SP1. Some of my Vista machines still don’t have proper Vista drivers from their manufacturers. But’s that’s not Microsoft’s fault — at least, not directly.

As I said up top, installing Vista SP1 has been like a non-event for me. Perhaps I’ll notice actual differences in real-world use as more time goes by.

If you want to get up to speed on Vista SP1, Computerworld’s coverage from Windows Editor and blogger Preston Gralla and reporters Eric Lai and Gregg Keizer have been excellent. Preston has been testing SP1 for performance and other aspects. Here are some links I recommend you check out:

One Response to “Testing Windows Vista SP1 RTM Code”

  1. Corrine Says:

    Unlike you, Scot, I rather like Windows Vista. I don’t install a lot of software, yet when I do, I have no issues with the UAC prompt like many other people do. I have also been fortunate not to have driver issues. I am disappointed in the so-called Ultimate features and haven’t seen anything special.

    “JSKY” has been Beta testing Windows Vista SP1 and posted his recommendations in “Installing Vista SP1” (http://members.rushmore.com/~jsky/id42.html). He indicated that in March we will be able to download the stand-alone client from MS and in April, receive it from from Windows Update. He is already running SP1 and is very pleased with it.

    Following is some additional information that JSKY provided to pass along to others so they will know what to expect:

    MS is starting something new with the WU (windows update) download. This download can take from one half to one and a half hours just to download. As the client is downloading. It will also be installing parts of the Service Pack updates at the same time. So there will be times that the download meter just sits there at “whatever per-cent” downloaded. Let everyone know that this will be normal. It is not a bad connection.

    Also. Once the full client is downloaded. Depending on how up to date you are. The actual install of SP1 will also take anywhere from a half an hour to a good hour and a half.

    There are three stages to the SP1 install. With a couple of reboots. And one of the reboots will take forever with the installing updates before and after the reboot.

    So normally. Expect a good couple of hours+ to get everything installed.”

    Being on dial up, I will be sure that I download the stand-alone client. I look forward to your further input, Scot.

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