Vista SP1

Microsoft has taken the lid off of Vista SP1 (Service Pack 1) by releasing a detailed report of what to expect when it is released. This announcement comes the same day that Microsoft pushed out two of the most important updates since Vista’s release, both of which make significant improvements to the usability of Vista.

All the information that you need regarding Vista SP1 is below, and it’s broken up into categories so that you can quickly find what you’re looking for. Disappointingly there was no news of a revamped User Account Control (UAC), but hopefully they’ll consider adding a "remember my choice" option so that it isn’t so redundant.

UPDATE: A Release Candidate of Vista SP1 has been made available publicly, and feel free to read our initial thoughts on it.

Alright, now we’ll take a look at the important release dates that were mentioned as well as some of the bugs that will be fixed.

–Vista SP1 Beta Release Date & Availability–

Microsoft said that they plan on releasing Vista SP1 Beta to a moderate amount of testers (10,000 to 15,000) by mid-September. It’s speculated that a public build of Vista SP1 won’t be ready until it hits the release candidate stage, which Microsoft hasn’t provided a timeframe for.

There’s no doubt that Vista SP1 Beta will be leaked to Internet shortly after it is in the hands of testers, especially since another pre-beta version was just leaked the other day. This pre-beta is a standalone version with the build number 6001.16633, and it’s a hefty 700MB download. If you do a search on torrent sites for that build number you should have no troubles finding it.

–Vista SP1 Release Date–

We knew that Vista SP1 was in the works when Google hammered Microsoft with an antitrust complaint regarding the integrated search in Vista. Microsoft was forced to open the search capabilities to third-party applications, and Vista SP1 will be doing just that. Microsoft, however, still has plenty of time before they have to worry about Google overtaking the search capabilities in Vista.

The final release date of Vista SP1 is expected to be in the first quarter of 2008. They are holding back on announcing an official release date because they want to hit the "quality bar" first, but they said that it will ship alongside Windows Server 2008 RTM (release to manufacturing).

–Vista SP1 Delivery Format–

When Vista SP1 is released it will come in several different formats just like XP’s Service Packs did. Almost everyone will probably be using the Express version which will download only the updates that are needed for your computer, but I always like to have the standalone on hand. Here are the three different formats that will be available:

Express – Requires an Internet connection but minimizes the size of the download by sending only the changes needed for a specific computer (approximately 50 MB for x86-based operating systems).

Standalone – Recommended for computers with limited Internet connectivity and for applying the service pack to multiple computers. The download size is larger than the express package (about 1GB for the x86 version), but customers can apply a single package to any Windows Vista version and language combination (within a platform).

Slipstream – The slipstream version of Windows Vista SP1 is media that already contains the service pack, which companies can use to deploy the operating system to new computers or to upgrade existing computers. Slipstream media will also be available to Volume Licensing customers.

–Vista SP1 Features–

Reliability improvements:

  • Improved reliability and compatibility of Windows Vista when used with newer graphics cards in several specific scenarios and configurations.
  • Improved reliability when working with external displays on a laptop.
  • Improved Windows Vista reliability in networking configuration scenarios.
  • Improved reliability of systems that were upgraded from Windows XP to Windows Vista.
  • Increased compatibility with many printer drivers.
  • Increased reliability and performance of Windows Vista when entering sleep and resuming from sleep.

Performance improvements:

  • Improves the speed of copying and extracting files.
  • Improves the time to become active from Hibernate and Resume modes.
  • Improves the performance of domain-joined PCs when operating off the domain; in the current release version of Windows Vista, users would experience long delays when opening the File dialog box.
  • Improves performance of Windows Internet Explorer 7 in Windows Vista, reducing CPU utilization and speeding JavaScript parsing.
  • Improves battery life by reducing CPU utilization by not redrawing the screen as frequently, on certain computers.
  • Improves the logon experience by removing the occasional 10-second delay between pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL and the password prompt displaying.
  • Addresses an issue in the current version of Windows Vista that makes browsing network file shares consume significant bandwidth and not perform as fast as expected.

More Information: Vista Blog, All About Microsoft, Ed Bott, and jkOnTheRun