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Finally the much awaited Windows Vista service pack 1 is available for download! The complete service pack download is over 420MB(!) so don’t even think of downloading it over dialup. This service pack mainly consists of quality improvements, support for emerging hardware and standards and infrastructure optimization.

When Windows vista was released there were many who thought it would be a failure. Who would want to upgrade from the stable Windows XP? But Windows vista went on to sell over 100 million copies and has in turn become the fastest selling operating system in history! One of the areas where Windows Vista is much better than XP is the system security. Microsoft had invested a lot of effort in improving security architecture of Windows and it is beginning to payoff.

What is inside Windows Vista SP1?

1. Quality improvements
Windows Vista initially supported around 13,000 hardware components. With SP1 this number is increased to 54,000 components. Application and device compatibility improvements are many in Windows SP1.

Reliability improvements in SP1 include networking reliability improvements (for WiFi and IP6) and improvements to NTFS and EFS.

Performance enhancements include major speed/bandwidth improvements while accessing network shares, faster file copy (upto 45% faster!), improved battery life for laptops and faster access to compressed folders.

There are also a number of security improvements including support for new security standards.

2. Support for emerging hardware and standards
This include enhanced support for 64bit computers, support for new filesystem called exFAT and has support for Direct3D 10.1. The new standards supported include the wireless standard 802.11n, SHA 256 and SSTP (secure sockets tunnel protocol).

3. Infrastructure optimization
Windows vista SP1 introduces a concept called hotpatching. This allows updates to core components even when they are in use! This will definitely reduce the number of restarts required during an upgrade. Windows auto update is made smarter to deal with transient errors such as sharing violations and power failures. There are also a couple of improvements to Windows management such as enhanced network diagnostic tool and ability to configure disk defragmenter on a volume basis.

There are a number of programs that may not work once Windows Vista SP1 is installed. These include BitDefender AV,Fujitsu Shock Sensor,Jiangmin KV Antivirus 10, Jiangmin KV Antivirus 2008, Trend Micro Internet Security, Zone Alarm Security Suite, Iron Speed Designer, Xheo Licensing. Free Allegiance, NYT Reader, Rising Personal Firewall and Novell ZCM Agent. Windows Vista SP1 also won’t work with certain hardware which include audio/display drivers from Realtek and Intel.

It is better to use Windows update instead of downloading the SP1 directly. Windows Update can detect driver problems before installation. My advise is to wait for a couple of days before applying SP1 patch. There could be serious compatibility issues with certain hardware and software.

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