Are You Ready for Windows Vista SP1?
Jan 24, 2008, 7:14 GMT
Washington - If you've upgraded to Windows Vista and are less than thrilled with some aspects of the operating system, you're not alone.
Vista's visual overhaul of Windows and its beefed-up security have drawn praise from some, but just as many decry the performance and steep learning curve when compared to Windows XP.
As a result, Microsoft has hurried to bring Service Pack 1 (SP1) of Windows Vista to market, and a beta of SP1 is now in the hands of testers around the world.
Will SP1 finally mean that you can switch to Vista if you've been waiting - or that you'll be happier with your switch to the new operating system? Read on for some answers.
Q: What are the major improvements offered in Vista SP1?
A: The big news in Vista SP1 involves improvements in both performance and compatibility. On the performance front, testers have noticed snappier response all around from the operating system, generally in the neighbourhood of 10 per cent or better over the original release of Vista.
Specifically, Vista has improved the speed at which files are copied and extracted, reduced the amount of time that the operating system takes to recover from sleep and hibernation modes, quickened the pace of logging on, and sped up access times on computers connected to networks. Notebook users should notice improvements in battery life with SP1, thanks to reductions in processor utilisation and refinements in the way Vista uses the screen in notebook computers.
Microsoft developers have been working hard, also, to make Vista more compatible with current hardware and software. Part of this effort has included working with third-party software and hardware makers to get their products certified for Windows Vista. Vista SP1 also comes with support for or improvement in compatibility for some 700,000 hardware devices over the initial release of Vista.
Q: Are there any new features in Vista SP1?
A: In generally, service packs do not promise or offer new features; they're usually a collection of patches and code improvements that add up to a better overall experience when using the product. An exception to this rule was with Windows XP's SP2, which did offer some significant new features.
Vista's SP1 does offer at least one new feature, however. A new application called Create a Recovery Disk will allow Vista users to make a DVD that they can use in the event of a system meltdown. Normally with Windows, this type of recovery would have to be done by restoring an image file or by reinstalling all or part of the operating system - a tedious procedure at best.
Create a Recovery Disk does not mimic the system recovery tool that has been delivered by some computer makers, such as HP, for some time. Such tools merely restore a PC to its factory-default state.
With a Vista recovery disk, you will not need to have the original Windows Vista installation DVD in order to restore your system to a working state. The recovery disk itself is a slimmed-down version of the entire Vista installation DVD. It will contain all of the files and settings you need to get back up to speed as quickly as possible. You will be able to find the new Create a Recovery Disk tool in the Start menu under All Programs, Maintenance, Create a Recovery Disk.
Q: How can I get Vista SP1?
A: Vista users can get what's called the 'release candidate' of SP1 right now as a free download from Microsoft.
Previously, Microsoft announced that SP1 would be made available only to a relatively small group of testers, but recently, in an effort to get wider feedback, the company released the latest version of SP1 to the general public.
Keep in mind, though, that what you would be downloading now is not the final release of SP1. A 'release candidate' generally refers to a software release that's been through a few iterations of pre- release testing and is felt to be close to complete. But changes can and usually are made to release candidates before the code is stamped 'ready.'
There are two important things to note about the release candidate: it's time-limited and you will have to completely uninstall any prior beta version of SP1 before installing it. Specifically, the release candidate of SP1 expires in June of this year, so you will have to uninstall it and then install the final SP1 by then.
Also, if you intend to install the release candidate of SP1 and have previously installed any beta version of SP1, you must uninstall the SP1 version that you have and then wait at least an hour before installing the release candidate. That's because it will take Vista an hour to fully clear out all remnants of the beta version of SP1 currently installed.
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