When is a service pack NOT a service pack? When its Vista SP1 of course!

Just received my copy of the Vista SP1 DVD through courier mail today, thus I can recover the disk space taken by the download from Windows Update (the DVD also comes with the 64-bit version of SP1 but I'm currently not running that version ... yet). Since using my new PC, I've already formatted it four (4) times and I was getting sick of having to apply the updates over and over again. SP1 on its own takes an average 35 minutes to install (after numerous reboots) which is supposedly good as some users have reported installation times of well over an hour.

Most of the changes to Vista after SP1 has been installed will mostly be hidden from users (full details of changes available here) but most important would probably be the performance enhancements where SP1 boasts of being able to:

  • manipulate files from 25-50% faster

  • read/open images 50% faster

  • reduce resume time from standby mode

  • improves network performance by removing unnecessary bandwidth consumption

  • improves power management (i.e. longer battery life?)

Personally, I don't find any much difference other than the fact that it does seem to crash a little less AFTER SP1 and file operations are slightly faster especially copying from folder to folder. I don't use standby/sleep modes, so I can't comment much on the reduction of resume times.

What's frustrating (and perplexing) is the warning on the back of the disc that asks users to install the latest updates before installing SP1. I mean ... come on, isn't a service pack supposed to include all past updates rolled into one? Its over 400MB in size for gawd sake ... can't all the earlier updates be included?

Seriously, SP1 does improves things a teeny-tiny bit but Vista still has a long-long-LONG way to go. The longer I use it, the more things I find I hate about it. I won't take drastic actions by upgrading back to XP just yet ... at least not until I have found all the drivers I need for my hardware. Off the back of my head, several things that I wish/hope/pray will come soon to Vista SP2/3/X

  • An "Apply to all folders" option when setting view preferences in Explorer

  • An easy way to set the default MIDI/synth playback device

  • Support for disc images such as .iso or .img (buck up Microsoft! Linux and MacOS have had built-in support for mounting disc images for so long) - an earlier version of Virtual CD-ROM by Microsoft no longer works in Vista and supposedly has been removed from the official Microsoft downloads section

  • Better support for their own MCE IR receivers

  • Native support for MPEG-1/2/4 codecs

  • A easier/better way of unplugging/troubleshooting USB devices

TIP : For anyone that has already installed Vista SP1 and things are running OK, make sure you run the cleanup option which is installed as part of SP1 but never advertised/revealed to the casual user to remove all the temporary installation files . Just open a command window or using the Run command box, type in vsp1cln.exe and press enter. This reclaims around 1GB of harddisk space which can be put to better use for downloads/games/pron(sic) ...

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