Vista SP1 - Do You Need It?

Category: Vista

I've heard that Microsoft just released Vista SP1, a package of updates that will make Vista run faster. Should I install it? If so, how do I get Vista SP1?

Windows Vista SP1 Service Pack

Is Vista SP1 Ready For Prime Time?

Microsoft Vista's Service Pack 1 was made available March 18, 2008. But it started causing controversy even before its release. After a few delays, Microsoft announced in January that the service pack was ready, but they were not going to release the update until mid-March. This announcement resulted in mixed reactions. Some lauded the cautious approach Microsoft was taking; it seems there are some driver compatibility issues that the software giant has to iron out. Others took the "what's the big deal?" stance, feeling that having to re-install drivers Vista SP1 might not recognize is small trade-off for the performance improvement SP1 is supposed to offer.

Those who had their system fouled up by the Windows XP service packs may be wary of applying Vista SP1. Some SP1 beta testers experienced problems with the Vista control panel disappearing, and others reported that the SP1 install caused their computer to freeze up or reboot endlessly.

SP1 Performance Gains?

But Microsoft claims that these problems have been fixed, and that there are several advantages to applying this update. One of the more eagerly-awaited is purported desktop performance improvement. There have been some grumblings about sluggish desktop navigation with original Vista. SP1 is also supposed to have greater driver and video card support (there were issues with newer graphics cards in pre-SP1 Vista.) The update supposedly will also include drivers for a wider variety of printers.

There is some additional OS "tweaking" that the service pack supposedly provides. For example, the service pack is supposed to correct an issue some systems running Vista were having resuming from Sleep or Hibernate mode. The vendor asserts that SP1 will reduce CPU utilization especially when using IE7. The update should improve the reliability of upgrades from XP to Vista (if you MUST have Vista and want to upgrade a system running XP, you may be better off waiting for the service pack.)

SP1 should also improve the laptop user's experience. Microsoft has stated SP1 will improve reliability with external laptop displays. Battery life may likely be improved as well by having the OS not refresh the screen too frequently on some systems.

Other Vista SP1 Advantages

There are some actual changes within Vista SP1 not strictly related to performance. One change is with Disk Defrag. In Vista, users could only defrag the system volume. With the update, users can choose the volume to run defrag on. With the service pack, Vista now supports exFat, the file system used by flash memory storage and mobile devices.

There are several security enhancements. BitLocker, a function that premiered in original Vista, can automatically encrypt all files on a hard disk drive. SP1 features enhanced BitLocker encryption, with an authentication method that uses a generated key a user can store on a USB drive and requires a pin number to access the encrypted files. And gamers rejoice!---- SP1 supports Direct 3D 10.1.

When and Where Can I Get Vista SP1?

The service pack will be available via Windows Update, and will include any updates prior to SP1. Microsoft will begin delivering the SP1 update package to all Vista users automatically in mid-April. So most people can just sit back and wait for the wave to roll in.

For those who support multiple computers (or if you just can't wait until April) you can download the stand-alone Vista SP1 installer package from the Microsoft Download Center.

The upgrade will require quite a bit of disk drive space. The file itself is 1 GB ----large because it supports all languages. The upgrade process alone requires 7 GB of free space for 32-bit systems and 12 GB for 64-bit. However, most of that drive space should be reclaimed after install.

While upgrading isn't a requirement, for the home user, Vista SP1 seems to deliver some pretty good performance boosts. Business users might want to wait awhile after the initial release and deploy the service pack in a testing environment first to ensure there are no compatibility issues with devices and third-party applications.

If you're concerned that the SP1 update might cause a problem with your system, you can use the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool, to temporarily prevent the service pack from being automatically installed via Windows Update. Waiting isn't always a bad thing. After all, XP didn't become as quite as reliable as it is until its Service Pack 2 release.

Have you applied the Vista SP1 updates? Tell us your experience by posting a comment below...

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Most recent comments on "Vista SP1 - Do You Need It?"

(See all 24 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

George Lester
26 Mar 2008

I have an HP laptop with Windows Vista Home Premium the SP1 was offered to me on the 19 March 08.. The download and install took 1 hour, so far all seems to work perfectly, the boot up time is much shorted than before....

EDITOR'S NOTE: Interesting... it was released on 3/18, and MS said the rollout would be in about a month. Maybe the Vista Premium installs get priority.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2008

Ever since Vista came out, people have been talking about waiting until the first service pack to upgrade. Now people are talking about SP1 like it's the devil and you really need to wait until SP2. It's really ridiculous.

Like it has always been, most of the people who have problems with OS upgrades are those who have problems to begin with. I was an early adopter of Vista last February, and I installed the service pack on the day it became available for download. Performance is better, and I wouldn't wait around for SP2. If you have Vista already, get the service pack.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2008

Just finished installing SP1 on an HP slimline that I purchased with Vista installed (Ultimate). This is a dual processor machine and was never as quick feeling on normal operations as my single processor machine running XP pro. After downloading the drivers as suggested on MS site, the install went smoothly. I didn't notice any difference in performance, but noticed that the True Image backup image was over 1 gig larger. I ran the cleaner and still the image at the max compression would not fit on a DVD, even though the pre SP1 image left 700meg on a DVD. I rely on burned backups, so I decided to install XP pro on the HP slimline, against HP advice. The drivers were not all that hard to find and now I have turned a mediocre performing machine into a fairly quick machine. For the same function, ie all programs to deliver the vista capability, the XP pro (SP2) image leaves about 1.5 gig an a DVD. This started as an experiment, but I think I'll just leave it as is. Vista is not that much different to use and is fairly easy once you find out where everything has been moved. To sum up, the vista SP went smoothly, but made an unacceptable (for me) sized image and didn't increase performance. In my case the "upgrade" to XP was a better choice and I was able to find the right drivers.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2008

Vista (Business) Service Pack 1 was just installed on my computer by Microsoft Update and now I cannot connect my CISCO VPN as I always get an Error: "Secure VPN Connection terminated locally by the Client. Reason 414: Failed to establish a TCP connection." I have tried reinstalling the VPN Client version which did not help. I am currently without a solution to this problem.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2008

I've installed SP1 on two systems running Vista - one is a notebook running Vista Home Premium and the other a desktop running Vista Ultimate. Both seem to be running OK after a week with absolutely no problems. I will mention that I ensured that I had all the current drivers for both systems before I ran the SP1 update.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2008

I downloaded Vista SP1 for Home Premium on March 23. I installed stage 1 of 3 OK, but stage 2 stopped and said it was unable to continue. The changes were backed out and the system was restored to the original state. I contacted Microsoft for help via e-mail. They responded March 24 with very detailed instructions. They said to go to Start and type msconfig. On the services tab, disable all. On the startup tab, disable all. After the system restart, the download and install was flawless -- took about and hour and forty five minutes for complete process. I suspect the culprit may have been the security service (firewall) that I subscribe to monthly. I restored the services and startup items I desired and have had no problems. P.S. Microsoft also gave instructions of how to capture error messages via PrintScreen, system information, and CBS.log if further help was needed. The help was FREE.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2008

Quad-Core CPU, GeForce 8800 video card. I installed SP1, and now my screen goes blank at least once a day. Computer and monitor still running, just the screen goes totally black. I have to reboot to get things back to normal.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2008

Installed VSP1 3 days ago and have not had a problem. I really can't tell if there has been a performance improvement, I never had any performance issues before VSP1.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2008

"EDITOR'S NOTE: Interesting... it was released on 3/18, and MS said the rollout would be in about a month. Maybe the Vista Premium installs get priority."

I dont believe that is the case. I have Vista Home Premium installed on my machine and I also have automatic updates turned on. I did not recieve SP1 automatically. Infact, I did not even know about it until I read this article here.

It's been almost a week now since I have installed SP1 and I still stand by my orignal statements that SP1 is well worth the download and install taime. Love it

Posted by:

26 Mar 2008

I got a message that Vista SP1 for Vista Home edition update was ready to be installed on March 26. It installed in about an hour and everything seemed to be working fine. When I turned my Toshiba laptop on the following day it would not start up. I ended up having to go back to the restore point before SP1 was installed. I haven't any idea what caused the problem with the SP1 install, but I guess I will wait until another SP version is ready and try again.

Posted by:

27 Mar 2008

I tried installing it on my Toshiba Satellite A135-S4427 Notebook. After it tried to install the first step, it could not install, and reverted. I tried killing all services, an when I did that, I could not connect to the internet, and when I turned on the services I needed to connect, Windows Update would not run. So I turned that back on, and it kept getting an error when I tried to run it. Wouldn't even download the SP. It sounds like this is going to be a forced install in the near future. I hope not.

Posted by:

27 Mar 2008

I just updated my HP DV6670ee laptop w/ Vista Home Premium to Vista SP1, the update took approximately 2hours. The update went fine and, after reboot, one improvement I noticed was my Vista Index (performance) rating went up from 3.1 to 3.4.

But the problem is, now, the media controls (volume, play/pause, quickplay,DVD) located on the upper part of my keyboard, stopped working. And trying the Media Control Keys causes "Windows Explorer" to crash. It is much better with the factory installed VISTA.

Posted by:

18 Apr 2008

So Vista is It was to slow and big before, so i unistalled it. My computer is much faster now!

Posted by:

22 May 2008

Vista (Business) Service Pack 1 was just installed on my computer by Microsoft Update and now I cannot connect my CISCO VPN as I always get an Error: "Secure VPN Connection terminated locally by the Client. Reason 414: Failed to establish a TCP connection." I have tried reinstalling the VPN Client version which did not help. I am currently without a solution to this problem.

Posted by:

26 May 2008

Killed my toshiba at home. After booting up it freezes. I was able to get my data from Safe mode. Now I am debating on wether to start with a clean install but I hate to do that. This sucks! I need my computer!

Posted by:

07 Jul 2008

Had similar issues as Steve819 but in a Toshiba Satellite L30-101 running Vista Basic. Left it installing SP1 yesterday morning, it said it had failed and was removing the changes, then came up with the logon after it had finished configuring itself. Instead of logging on, I chose to shut it down, and when my partner powered it up later on, she got the choice to either repair Windows or start normally - either option just results in the same screen coming up, over and over again. We didn't get a Vista CD with the laptop, just a Toshiba PC recovery disk, which I'll have a go at tonight to see if I can get to a restore point... I guess if I have to take it to be repaired, Microsoft won't be offering to foot the bill? How can they get away with releasing service packs that actually kill people's computers???

Posted by:

10 Jul 2008

I had the same problem as Emma, My hp dv9000 laptop won't start. I spent hrs with HP tech help and they had no clue what was going on. I bought a recovery disc (by the way it should have been free). The disc was no good, Tech help stated after 3hrs of getting no where that the disc was faulty. all of this after installing vista SP1. CAn anyone help me?

Posted by:

24 Aug 2008

I have tried for two months now, probably about 25 times, to install Vista's SP1. Each time it indicates "successful installation" but within a few seconds it re-states "failed installation". Has anyone else gone through this? I think God's trying to tell me I don't need it! :) I would really appreciate hearing your input, Mr. Rankin. Thanks!

EDITOR'S NOTE: If God is speaking, then anything I have to say is much less important. Wait for SP2!

Posted by:

17 Mar 2009

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Posted by:

08 Aug 2009

Installed SP1 on my HP530. Everything seemed fine until a few minutes went by and my wireless connection packed up. Had to reboot. Turns out there is a problem with the 3945ABG and SP1.

Without SP1, Vista runs fine. Linux runs better but it doesn't look as good (not yet, at least).

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