Archive for SP1

Vista SP1 – What’s This Talk About It Showing Up In April?

Posted in Products with tags , , on March 21, 2008 by itnerd

I got this question from Nick who co-writes a blog called Nick’s Technology Blog:

“I heard that I could get sp1 through windows update in mid-April. is this true?”

The answer is yes and no. Let me explain.

The key thing is how Windows Update is set up on your computer. If you have Windows Update set up to simply notify you of updates or you manually check for updates, you can get Vista SP1 today (assuming you don’t have something on this list that prevents it from showing up). That’s the “no” part.

The “yes” part goes something like this. If you have Windows Update set up to automatically download and install updates (which by the way is NOT a setting I recommend for ANYBODY) or simply download and notify (another setting I don’t recommend), then you will not see Vista SP1 until “sometime” in April. I suspect Microsoft is doing this so that they can see what problems that people in the first category have before they really open the floodgates. It makes sense to me why they might do that.

How did I figure this out? Well, Microsoft hasn’t officially said anything but I read this article and decided to do an experiment. I cloned my pre SP1 Vista virtual machine on my MacBook Pro (another reason why running Windows on Macintosh using Parallels is better than running Windows on real PCs). I set one to automatically download and install updates, and the other was set to simply notify that updates were available. If I manually had the latter virtual machine look for updates, it would present me with SP1. The former didn’t present me with SP1 for the 24 hours that I left it running. So it seems that the article was accurate.

Alternately if you want SP1 now, you can simply download it from the links I referenced in this article, but my warnings from previous articles still apply. I’d wait until any issues that may appear with SP1 surface and those issues are fixed.

Vista SP1 Not Showing Up In Windows Update? It’s For Your Own Good.

Posted in Tips with tags , , , , on March 20, 2008 by itnerd

There are reports of people not being able to get Vista SP1 via Windows Update. While this may sound weird, that’s a good thing because one of the things that Windows Update will do is check to see if you have anything on your system that may cause a problem when upgrading to SP1. Microsoft has a document on the reasons that cause you not to see Vista SP1 that you should read if you run into this problem. The most common reason seems to be driver related (as a lot of Vista issues are caused by drivers that are not up to snuff) and Microsoft has a list of drivers known to be bad actors in the document that I referenced above. Most seem to be sound card related, but there are also reports of Nvidia drivers doing the same thing (although we have several computers that run Vista with Nvidia cards and we have not seen this in house). 

The question is, why is Microsoft doing this? In short, it doesn’t want to make Vista any more hated than it already is. They’ve actually listened to feedback from customers (read: corporate customers who pay them a lot of money in licensing fees) and have built SP1 to inflict as little pain as possible. It checks your system up front and refuses to install if it thinks that bad things will happen. So the bottom line is this: If you’re inconvenienced for a bit while you update your drivers and get your system ready for SP1 to install properly, then in my humble opinion that is better than SP1 trashing your system. Sure there are ways around this, but if I were you I would not use them. After all you want your system to work properly, right? 

Windows Vista SP1 – Day Two

Posted in Products with tags , , , on March 19, 2008 by itnerd

I’ve now played with Windows Vista SP1 for a day or so and I’ve noticed some subtle improvements to the OS: 

  • Network Diagnostics – One of the things that Microsoft got right on day one was the ability for Vista to help you solve networking issues. This has improved in SP1 to a huge degree.
  • There used to be a pause of 20 – 30 seconds between pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del and getting a log-in prompt on the Vista Business machine that my company uses for testing purposes. This no longer seems to be the case post SP1. 
  • The same Vista Business computer would hang when coming out of hibernation. This too is gone. 
  • Vista SP1 does away with the Search item on Vista’s start menu. With the original Vista, Microsoft set Windows Search Explorer as the default, but you can now change this to use the desktop search program of your choice, such as Google Desktop. I’m guessing that the anti-trust issues that Microsoft has “encouraged” them to make this change. 
  • My Vista computer now reboots faster, so the posts regarding this that I found on Google were accurate. 

So far I’ve found nothing negative about SP1, which is likely a good thing. More impressions as I get them.

Windows Vista SP1 – First Impressions

Posted in Products, Tips with tags , , , on March 18, 2008 by itnerd

I’ve been using SP1 for the past couple of hours. My first impressions are as follows:

  • The install of the service pack took just over an hour and required a few reboots. But it seemed to go smoothly. I was using the standalone installer rather than the Windows Update version (which Microsoft says that you shouldn’t use to update a single machine, but it worked fine for me so I’m not sure what that’s all about) so I am not sure if that makes a difference. 
  • Copying Files is MUCH faster now. I did a test before installing the update and with SP1 it’s about 50% faster. 
  • The startup and shutdown of my VM is MUCH slower now. Googling the web seems to indicate that this will disappear over time. 
  • The OS “feels” a bit snappier. I’ve traced that to some sort of improvement in the disk I/O subsystems.
  • It’s still a memory hog. I’d still recommend 2GB or more to anyone who wants to run Vista. 
  • There’s less “Cancel or Allow” nonsense from User Account Controls. Thank god!

Keep in mind are that I really didn’t have many problems with Vista, but there were a ton of things that annoyed me, so I’ll have to use this for a few days to really get an idea of how different it is.

So, would I recommend installing this? Yes, but I’d wait a week or so. That way you can see the first bugs appear and the workarounds to those bugs will be widely available by using Google. From where I stand, it’s a decent upgrade but it’s not the earth shattering one that people may have been expecting. In short, it didn’t suck. And that may be enough to have Vista be seen in a different light.  

Update: A reader left a comment stating that SP1 wouldn’t install because of his sound card driver. This is a good thing because drivers have been the cause of a lot of Vista related issues. So they’ve designed Windows Update and SP1 to hunt down these drivers as stated in this quote:

“Windows Update will recognize PCs with drivers that may be problematic and postpone offering SP1 to those PCs until it has installed corrected drivers or other applicable updates.  Either way, Windows Update works to detect whether or not your system is ready for SP1 and not offer it to you until the time is right.”

This is from this blog entry. If you run into this situation, you should hold off installing SP1 until you update the drivers in question and SP1 likes the drivers you install. That’s one of the reasons why I suggested that you might want to hold off for a few days before diving in. 

For You Early Adopters Out There – Here’s Vista SP1!

Posted in Products with tags , , , on March 18, 2008 by itnerd

If you really want to get your hands on SP1 for Windows Vista (and can’t wait for it to appear in Windows Update), the standalone installer is here for the 32-bit version of Vista. For those of you with the 64-bit version of Vista, get your installer here. Remember, you’re always taking a risk when installing a service pack so back up your stuff before you try this out. It weighs in at 434 MB for the 32-bit version and 726 MB for the 64-bit version, so it will take a while to download. I’ll be letting you know how it goes when I have played with it for a bit.

Update: According to this blog entry, it has been released to Windows Update. There’s more useful info there as well.

Hide Your Women & Children, Vista SP1 Is Almost Here!

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on March 17, 2008 by itnerd

For those of you who have been waiting anxiously for Windows Vista SP1 to arrive, your time is almost here. According to this ComputerWorld article, Vista SP1 hits software update tomorrow. What am I going to do? Since my install of Vista is on a virtual machine using Parallels Desktop for Macintosh, I am going to clone that virtual machine and then install SP1 and see how it works. That way if the update really goes south on me, I can easily revert to a known working copy of Vista (another reason why I prefer running Windows on my MacBook Pro vs running it on a real PC). You can do something similar if you use one of the methods that I wrote about in this article some time ago. After all, this service pack has been linked to a couple of major problems so it would be wise to be protect yourself.

After I’ve played with it for a bit, I’ll post my impressions. After all, it’s entirely possible that it might not suck.

Vista SP1 Delayed – Sort Of, Kind Of….

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on March 5, 2008 by itnerd

With all the turmoil around Windows Vista these days (like lack of adoption, class action lawsuits to name a couple of things), it really doesn’t help Microsoft any by announcing that SP1 which was promised to remedy many of the issues with Windows Vista is now going to be delayed to some degree. According to this blog posting, Nick White who is the unfortunate chap that has the title of Product Manager for Windows Vista (which has to be one of the worst jobs EVER one would think), Vista SP1 will be rolled out like this:

 “We will be releasing Windows Vista SP1 in two “waves”. The first wave will only provide Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Vista Ultimate PCs running the following 5 Languages: English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish. The second wave will follow shortly after – supporting all 36 languages.”

While this doesn’t sound like a big deal, consider this: This is the latest problem to crop up with Vista SP1. The service pack in question has already been held responsible for killing or interfering with security apps (like anti-virus utilities) and has been tied to issues where PC’s can’t boot properly after the service pack is applied. It isn’t widely available yet and already it’s garnered some negative press.

It almost makes you want to switch to Mac now doesn’t it?