Earlier today I posted instructions on how to download and install Vista SP1 RC, and now that I’ve kicked it around a bit I thought I had enough thoughts to constitute an article. The reason why I didn’t include this information in the earlier post was that my installation had not completed, and in the end it took about 45 minutes to finish installing. A bulk of that time was spent after the computer restarted the first time, so don’t think that your done after the first restart.
Microsoft focused the first Service Pack for Vista purely on performance, stability, and reliability. After running it for just a few hours I’ve noticed that they went for the updates that offered the “biggest bang for the buck.” By that I mean they really hit home on some critical areas where performance wasn’t the greatest, and where users would really notice a big difference.
To be more specific here are some of the things that have really stood out to me in Vista SP1:
- They fixed one of the issues that has irked me the most! Previously when I would start up my laptop Vista would pause for about 15 seconds while it was connecting to the network. During that time no programs or Windows services would load, but things like the Start Menu were still usable. After a lot of research I determined that the delay was caused by Vista looking for other computers on the network, and if I disabled file sharing the problem disappeared. I’m happy to say that there are no startup delays for me in Vista SP1!
- Searching indexed files and folders is way more instant than before. I have Vista index all of the files on my entire computer, and sometimes when performing a search for files it would still take several seconds to bring up any matching results. Now it is able to pull in results almost instantaneously when I begin typing. For the curious minds out there I have 150,000+ files in my index that Vista is searching.
- Big file transfer speed improvements! Transferring files from one machine to another is amazingly faster. Before installing Vista SP1 on my computers I transferred a 500MB file over my local network. It took 3 minutes and 25 seconds to complete, but after installing Vista SP1 on both machines it only took 2 minutes and 22 seconds. That’s a 30% difference!
- Remaining time for file transfers is calculated faster, and seems to be a bit more accurate. When I transferred the 500MB file mentioned in the previous bullet the remaining time was calculated immediately upon initiating the transfer. Sometimes it would take 10 or 15 seconds for it to calculate, so it’s a lot nicer now.
- I have yet to see firsthand the advantages of the hotpatching we discussed yesterday, but the less frequent reboots will surely be a nice touch.
- One thing that really bugs me with Vista SP1 RC is that Microsoft felt the need to brand my desktop as an “evaluation copy.” Sure I’m not running the final release, and Vista SP1 RC will expire in June 2008, but did they still have to do this? If you’re annoyed by the “Evaluation copy. Build 6001″ message here are some instructions on how to remove it, but I’ll probably just leave it alone.
- There hasn’t really been any improvements to the User Account Control (UAC) in Vista. I guess this is something that would be included in Service Pack 2 since it is more aligned with new features, but some minor tweaks could have made it less frustrating for new users. A “remember my choice” checkbox on each of the prompts would make it 1,000 times better!
- I would have liked to see a few improvements to the Vista Gadgets, such as an autohide option for the sidebar. There should also be an easier one-key shortcut to show/hide the gadgets in the sidebar and on the desktop. The WinKey+Space Bar just doesn’t cut it for me.
So those are my initial impressions of Vista SP1, along with what I was hoping to see included. Vista SP1 should be in final form the early part of next year, and I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that two years won’t go by before we see SP2 (there was a two year gap between SP1 and SP2 for XP).