Redmond (WA) – After more than four weeks of Vista SP1 release chatter, Microsoft officially announced today the availability of the Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista.
Here is a quick overview of what is included and what to expect from the package, which includes 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) support.
Performance has been a major complaint with Vista from the beginning, so it should not come as a huge surprise that Microsoft has worked on this issue quite a bit. Microsoft claims that SP1 should bring 20-25% performance improvement, mostly due to increased application responsiveness.
According to the manufacturer, compressing and uncompressing data is much faster now, which, in our opinion could have been easily fixed by the company by simply licensing (or buying for that matter) WinZip or WinRAR. Also, same-disk copy processes have been accelerated by 25% and even by 45% when files are copied from a remote non-Windows Vista system to a SP1 system; Microsoft promises a 50% improvement when files are copied from a remote SP1 system to a local SP1 system.
Of course, there is a boatload of general fixes in Vista SP1, which address those nasty crashes in the Calendar, Media Player and Explorer; a revised indexing tool puts an end to continuous indexing and should reduce the stress on hard drives; a new startup repair tool allows users to make change son the fly; the networking feature set has been vastly improved with wireless ad-hoc connections, which may especially appreciated by notebook users; rewriting the network stack also brought numerous improvements in performance, such as the elimination of lack of the Explorer freeze while browsing disks that are being shared on a network.
All of this, by the way, was achieved by replacing the “old” Windows Vista kernel with the Windows Server 2008 kernel.
The list of features offered by SP1 are quite extensive. Owners of USB removable media will be happy to see exFAT, a new file-system that will support larger capacities and larger files (current FAT32 file system limits the largest single file to 4 GB, while FAT16 is limited to 2 GB). This is actually a critical new feature since high-end USB sticks are already available with up to 32 GB. The previous file system does not support single-volume 48 or 64 GB USB sticks.
The multimedia interface was upgraded to DirectX 10.1, which means that you can expect ATI to drum this feature all the way to the bank, especially since Nvidia is launching its GeForce 9800 line-up without the support for this API. All GeForce 9 products are based upon different versions of G92 chip, and this means DX10.0 for GeForce 9200, 9400, 9600 and 9800 products.
The BIOS as we know it is ready to kick the bucket, since SP1 delivers support for EFI and UEFI. This feature provides the foundation for boot disks that can boot the PC without BIOS (but of course, with EFI), and also enables a native installation on GPT formatted disks. Boot, Restart, Standby and Hibernation are supported as well. This should bode well with owners of Macs and future PC computers.
OMG… I can defrag more partitions now!
We saved one interesting improvement for the end. SP1 comes with an improved Windows defragmentation utility: It can defrag more partitions, which means that you can defrag all your hard drives at once, instead of defragmenting several hard drives over a number of days.
We actually have been running SP1 (MSDN release) on a 32-bit Vista Home Premium and 64-bit Vista Ultimate system for quite some time. Our impressions are positive, especially when it comes to the added stability. But, it still takes a century for the OS to start copying files on USB sticks or optical media. Calculating the time remaining for such a process appears to be a very complicated task. It looks like we have to wait for SP2 if this one is fixed.
Before you install SP1, make sure you check that your system is ready to support SP1. We highly recommend that you back up all of your data.
The 32-bit version is 434 MB in size, while the 64-bit version will eat up 726 MB.