129. Windows Vista Service Pack 1
By Andrew D. Wright
Due to unforeseen circumstances, this column was not published in the
Weekly newspapers. A
second version of this column with updated material
was published 18 April 2008.
Microsoft has publicly released the first major revision to the Windows
Vista operating system, Service Pack 1. SP 1 can be downloaded as a
stand-alone version or as a smaller download from Microsoft's Windows
Update site. It will be released as an automatic update during Microsoft's
regular monthly update in April 2008.
Service Packs are major updates to Microsoft software, rolling up months
of security updates and program bugfixes into one download and sometimes
adding new features.
Windows Vista Service Pack 1 includes all the security updates and
software patches Microsoft has released for Vista since it came out in
January 2007. It also fixes some of the more commonly reported bugs with
Vista including slow file copying, slow extraction of compressed zip files
using Windows Explorer, and poor network performance.
SP 1 improves Vista's hibernation and resume function, and adds battery
run time to laptop computers through more efficient processor and graphics
Vista's UAC, the User Account Control watchdog that protects Vista by
making the user manually approve any sensitive actions has also been
Advanced users with the Ultimate and Enterprise versions of Vista may like
the new BitLocker disk encryption system, and gamers with the very latest
video cards may enjoy the new Direct3D 10.1 update.
Vista SP 1 adds support for some new hardware and software standards not
currently in wide use such as Secure Digital (SD) Advanced Direct Memory
Access, coming in the next generation of SD host controllers; booting from
UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), which is set to eventually
replace the computer BIOS (Basic Input/Output System - the part of the
computer which starts first); and better support for Blu-Ray and HD-DVD
optical drives. Support for the next generation of larger size flash
memory is also included.
Now the bad news. Original Vista was widely criticized for its lack of
support for older hardware, even some relatively recent hardware. Users
discovered devices such as printers, scanners, sound cards, TV tuner
cards, fax modems and other multimedia devices would not work with Vista.
While some of these devices eventually got new drivers written for them,
many were simply rendered obsolete.
Vista Service Pack 1 is even less tolerant of older hardware. In some
cases hardware that would work with Windows Vista will produce system
lockups and the famous Blue Screen of Death with SP 1. Dialup Internet
users in particular may want to avoid this update unless their modem has
had new drivers written specifically for Vista or Vista SP 1.
Before installing Vista Service Pack 1, be sure to check for the newest
drivers for all computer hardware, most especially any hardware involving
video, graphics, networking or sound. Device drivers written before 2007
may simply not work.
Backup any personal documents or important files to a different device
than your hard drive, just in case the update goes seriously wrong and
your Vista hard drive needs to be re-formatted. Be sure to have enough
free hard drive space available for the update - up to 15 GB may be
Leave lots of time for the install. A quick problem-free install on a fast
computer can take less than an hour, but the process can take up to
several hours on a slower machine. The computer will need to reboot
several times during the update and may appear to be not making any
progress for long periods of time. Be sure to do the update when there is
good weather as a badly timed power outage can make a real mess of things.
Windows Vista Service Pack 1 standalone download (free - 435 MB):
Things to know before downloading Vista SP 1:
Microsoft Vista SP 1 Support Web Forums:
Free Microsoft Vista SP 1 Support:
Programs with known issues with Vista SP 1:
Device drivers with known issues with Vista SP 1:
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Originally published 4 April 2008