What to Do About Vista Service Pack 1

Vista SP1 has been running on a couple of my test machines for the past month and a half or so. I’ve encountered nothing remarkable in that time, other than some initial driver configuration issues. I wrote about my initial experiences last month.

Now that Vista SP1 is on its way to you, and some people may have been offered it via Windows Update, here are my recommendations:

1. You don’t need this thing right away. If you’ve kept up with Vista security patches, then you’re fine. There’s no need to rush into it.

2. On the other hand, the biggest pain you’re likely to encounter with SP1 is driver issues during or after installation. The driver problem is so acute, though, that Microsoft has taken the unusual step of preventing machines whose hardware profiles include components for which Vista SP1 doesn’t have an adequate driver from offering SP1 via Windows Update or via Automatic Updates. For more detail on this, and a specific example of the kind of driver problem you might encounter, check this Preston Gralla blog entry: My Nightmare Trying to Upgrade to Vista SP1.

Unless you’re strongly SP1-curious, and actually enjoy futzing with drivers (with the knowledge that you might have to back out of the install because the drivers you need just don’t exist), why put yourself through it? You might want to wait until your PC’s maker delivers full support for Vista SP1. Of course, there’s no guarantee your PC maker will do that. I have mainstream PCs from Lenovo and Dell that still don’t have full Vista support, never mind Vista SP1 support.

Still planning to do it? Check this Microsoft knowledgebase article first: Why Service Pack 1 is not offered for installation from Windows Update.

This is my last attempt: Unless you have to install Vista SP1, I’d at least wait for the dust to settle. Vista SP1 has only one true reason for being — to help Microsoft sell Vista to enterprise customers, among whom the conventional wisdom has been “wait for the first service pack.” What’s actually new and not available separately is, to my perception, more marketing hype than reality. There’s nothing wrong with SP1, but there’s absolutely nothing compelling about it either.

Scot’s Newsletter readers who use Windows should be aware that their best source of timely, detailed, experienced insight and hands-on advice about Windows can be found at Computerworld. Gregg Keizer and Eric Lai are the industry’s foremost Microsoft reporters, and our new Windows Editor, Preston Gralla, offers a first-rate blog called “Seeing Through Windows.” For the details you need to know about Vista SP1, start here:

One Response to “What to Do About Vista Service Pack 1”

  1. hkspike Says:

    Vista crashed over what it claimed was a network error; over a home network. Tricky, XP did it beautifully. Its solution was SP1. Given that this PC is up to date with patches, I thought … whatever. Some 66Mb later and a slow reboot, SP1 is installed. Nothing claims not to work but we’ll see. Given my dire views of how inept Vista is, I can’t imagine SP1 can be worse. If Vista falls over, there’s always wine in the fridge.

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