Vista SP1 - Do You Need It?
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?
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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 19 Mar 2008
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Vista SP1 - Do You Need It? (Posted: 19 Mar 2008)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved