Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vista SP1 publicly available

It's finally here: Vista SP1 for x86 and x64 versions of Windows Vista, in the primary 5 languages.

Though I've been waiting since they announced RTM, I actually appreciated the way they were distributing it; they found some drivers that weren't compatible with the SP1 install process, so they gave the manufacturers a heads-up and worked with them to release updated and compatible drivers. (Hence the nearly month-and-a-half delay before public availability). Now that all the manufacturers have updated drivers, they've released SP1 and configured Windows Update to check and make sure you don't have any of the problematic drivers. If you don't, no problem, here's SP1. If you do, here's the drivers you need to update, THEN once they're installed, here's SP1. And according to an article by Paul Thurrott, the compatibility of the bad drivers wasn't even all that bad to begin with. They're just keeping the lowest common denominator in mind- those users who wouldn't know that a visit to the Control Panel would have gotten them their soundcard working again. Very smart.

Apparently over the next few months they will upgrade the classification of the updated drivers to important, so someone who doesn't even realize they have the old versions will be automatically upgraded, then SP1 will be offered. I don't know yet if SP1 will be installed automatically or not. My computer at work is set to install any available updates automatically at 3:00AM, and I made sure it's aware of SP1's availability, so I guess if I come in tomorrow and it's SP1, it'll install automatically. My guess, however, is that you'll have to click a button that you accept the installation of SP1.

So the first thing I did when this became available was to burn the install on a CD, wipe out my lab machine and install vanilla Vista on a empty hard disk, then install the service pack as soon as I logged onto the desktop for the first time; the process that's supposed to be the 'worst' upgrade path, since vanilla Vista doesn't have any of the prerequisite installs for SP1. However, I was pleased with how they pulled this off; it told me it might take an hour or more to install (!), and that I couldn't use my computer during that time. It offered me a checkbox to have my computer restart automatically. What that allowed it to do was that, when it did restart for the first time (5 minutes or so after I began installation), it never came all the way back to the welcome screen or desktop. It finished installation in the screen I refer to as the "Pre-welcome screen" WinPE-looking screen. So even if a user has a password to log onto the machine, they don't have to enter it each of the three times it restarts. Very nice. And only about 20-30 minutes for it to install, too. I guess that's the benefit of over-estimating; it's a pleasant surprise when it turns out to be shorter.

Now that this is out, as soon as we get AutoCAD 2008 with multi-seat licensing at work, I can image an installation and reformatting a computer will suddenly become a 20-minutes process! I can't wait. I just wish that, as a 'home' user, I could pay a nominal fee and get a slipstreamed SP1 Vista disk, either as a download, or in the mail. Preinstalled Service Packs just tend to be better than one installed after the fact. Even though WAIK blurs that line quite a bit, I just can't get over wanting a bundled disk straight from Microsoft.

Update: According to my observations on several computers last night, as well as comfirmation from Windoes IT pro, though the updated drivers will eventually install automatically, Service Pack 1 will NOT. It will download automatically, but then prompt the user to install it. Just the way it should be, with an update this significant.

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