Ezine 129 – Windows Vista SP1 Beta

Ezine 129 – Windows Vista SP1 BetaMicrosoft Windows Vista SP1 Review

What to do about Vista?  The latest development is that Microsoft has announced that a Vista SP1 Beta will ship in October 2007, and the final version of SP1 in spring 2008.  Incidentally, I have applied to be one of the 15,000 beta testers. 

Vista Update, together with associated programs such as Office Update, have got smarter since XP was launched, thus there is less need for service packs.  Those with Vista have already received numerous security fixes and updated drivers all courtesy of the Vista Update service.  Indeed, if this Update technology is taken to its logical conclusion, there will never be any need for another service pack.

My friend ‘Barking’ Eddie – ever the cynic, says Microsoft is only releasing Vista SP1 because they are in danger of losing the world’s biggest game of poker.  His theory is that Microsoft bet that the big companies would buy Vista at launch time last February.  However, the big companies folded their cards, kept their money, and waited for the next deal.  As a result Microsoft has upped the stakes and are now betting ‘all in’ that the big players will buy Vista once it has SP1.

Here are the highlights of what Vista SP1 offers over and above the Updates:

  • Greater reliability for sleep mode especially on laptops
  • Improvements in Mobile Synchronization
  • Tweaks to the Remote Desktop protocol
  • Up-rated Network Diagnostics
  • Extra security options for BitLocker 
  • Extra drivers for the 64-bit version of Vista
  • Support for DirectX 10.1
  • Long file names for exFAT flash storage
  • Plus all the existing hotfixes and security updates


Perhaps the best indication that Vista SP1 will be a small Service Pack is that the file size will be only about 55 Mb, whereas XP’s Service Pack 2 was 270 Mb.  Perhaps there is a grain of truth in Eddie’s madcap theory that this a political service pack, a joker in the marketing poker game, rather than a must-have service pack.

Guy’s Message – Think long term

My mission this week is to encourage you to look at the big picture for your computer’s next operating system.  Sometimes it’s easier to see your own way forward by picking over other people’s mistakes.  To illustrate my point, here is a recent case study where I had a bit part.

It’s middle England, the small family company has been running Windows Me for the last 6yrs. (Me means Millennium edition, the runt of the Windows litter.)  To support Windows Me they have an IT staff of 300 and a workforce of 7.  I lie, just to see if you were awake,  but an IT department of 7 in a workforce of 300 is serious over-manning in my opinion – until you have to deal with Me. 

In a recent development the company have put the director, who masterminded Me, out to grass.  Now they have an opportunity to upgrade Me, which was his pride and joy, without causing a family rift.  The MD called me in to make the case for Vista, and two other consultants to make their cases for desktops running Linux Xandros, or iMacs.  Ah yes, what did the MD choose? iMacs around.

My lingering thought from this case study is to learn from the past.  No-one should put their head in the sand, and avoid upgrading indefinitely.  If they don’t apply the lesson of Me to Vista, then one day they will emerge only to realize that the world has moved on, and what was a state-of-the-art operating system has now become a liability. 

I suggest that your long term choice of operating system lies between Vista, Linux or iMac, and it is getting a tougher decision every year.  Assuming that you decide Vista is the way to go, then the next question is when to upgrade.  The emergence of SP1 is the traditionally trigger for people make the migration.  They argue that all the wrinkles will have been ironed out from the original release, and manufacturers of peripherals have at last got drivers for Vista.  In addition, by now they will have milked the last dollar out of the old kit, and the financial director may be in a good mood after his summer holiday and give you the funds to purchase Vista with SP1 in spring 2008.

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Readers’ Recommendations

Paul DeBrino has researched a free utility from Microsoft to check patches and updates. Qfecheck.exe verifies the installation Windows XP hotfixes.

Ross Anderson sent a timely reminder that Sysinternals have some great products.

Will and Guy’s Humour

This week Will and Guy’s humour theme is back-to-school, we feature jokes, and short stories about teachers and pupils.

See more information about Microsoft Windows service packs

Windows 8 Tips  •E 189 Windows 7 SP1  • E 157 Vista SP2  • Windows 8 Task Manager

E 135 Vista SP1  • E 129 Vista SP1  • E 130 Vista SP1  •E 50 W2K3 SP1  • E 34 XP SP3

E 23 SUS  •Free Network Device Manager  •Real-time Network Traffic Monitor  • Ezines