Microsoft released the final version of Vista Service Pack 1 yesterday. I’ve been testing it for a number of months and the final release seems quite polished. It hasn’t been released on Windows Update as of writing but I imagine it will by the end of the day.
For those Network Administrators that wish to prevent SP1 from being automatically installed via Windows Update onto their networked PCs, you can download the Service Pack Blocker Tool from Microsoft. Very handy if you haven’t had time to test your industry specific applications against the changes and improvements. Download the full Service Pack 1 here.
Here are some of the more notable improvements (see all of them here):
- Improves reliability by preventing data-loss while ejecting NTFS-formatted removable-media. I am very excited about this. Our network has many USB devices and almost all have experienced some form of data loss with Vista.
- Improves Windows Vista’s built-in file backup solution to include EFS encrypted files in the backup. This is great for network backups. Nothing like restoring a backup that doesn’t have ALL the files needed.
- SP1 reduces the number of UAC (User Account Control) prompts from 4 to 1 when creating or renaming a folder at a protected location. Home users will LOVE this. I always turn off UAC, but it is a good security feature for the less experienced. Many people DO need to be asked if they are sure about something. Reducing the prompts should allow it to be taken more seriously instead of a user always clicking YES.
- Users are now required to enter a password hint during the initial setup of Windows Vista SP1. This change was made based on feedback from top PC manufactures that many customers frequently do not remember their password and because the administrator account is turned off by default on Windows Vista, these users do not have a way to access to their PCs. A password hint helps avoid this frustrating scenario. Many instances where I have been required to crack the Administrator login of a VIP’s computer.
- Improves OS deployment by enabling 64-bit versions of Windows Vista to be installed from a 32-bit OS. This will allow IT professionals to maintain just a single WinPE image. Not really important, but does save time when doing multiple installs across a network.
- Allows an administrator to configure properties of a network, such as the name, and deploy it network-wide via a Group Policy snap-in. Good stuff to say the least.
- Improves network connection scenarios by updating the logic that auto selects which network interface to use (e.g., should a laptop use wireless or wired networking when both are available). This is great for myself and other people that have laptops that connect to multiple networks via different methods. I connect through wired, wireless, and cell methods. What I would like to see is a much more powerful network configuration tool that assigns multiple IP addresses per network. I have about 15 different IP addresses on 7 networks that I regularly connect to.
- Improves performance over Windows Vista’s current performance across the following scenarios:
25% faster when copying files locally on the same disk on the same machine
45% faster when copying files from a remote non-Windows Vista system to a SP1 system
50% faster when copying files from a remote SP1 system to a local SP1 system
- Improves the performance of browsing network file shares by consuming less bandwidth. Great for small businesses and even some larger businesses that still use “simple” file sharing.
Overall the changes will help the bad press Vista has received over the course of the last year. When installed and configured properly Vista is a very pleasant operating system to use. People tend to forget how poor Windows XP was when it was first released. Only after SP2 was XP a solid OS.