Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc installed and tested both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista SP1 Beta. The refresh can be deployed via either the Windows Update infrastructure or as a standalone installer. Windows Update delivers either two or three prerequisite downloads prior to the service pack, depending on the SKU the user is running. Users of the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista will have to deploy all three because of Windows BitLocker.
"I talked to Product Manager David Zipkin who explained what these prerequisites are for. The first prerequisite includes updates to the servicing stack. The second prerequisite is an update for BitLocker-capable PCs (Windows Vista Enterprise and Windows Vista Ultimate) to ensure proper servicing of Bitlocker. And the third and final prerequisite includes some updates to Windows, necessary to install and uninstall the service pack," LeBlanc stated, adding that the prerequisites for Windows Vista SP1 will be offered automatically to end-users via Windows Update before the actual service pack in early 2008.
While Vista SP1 Beta is a 51MB – 679.6MB important update, the standalone installer is considerably larger. For 32-bit Vista, SP1 will reach 1GB, while 64-bit Vista SP1 can go as high as 1.5GB. This because it is designed to offer support for all the 36 basic languages in which Vista is available as well as being tailor fitted for all the editions of the operating system.
"With Windows Vista SP1, there have been several improvements to my user experience I think are worth sharing. The first thing I noticed after installing SP1 was the logon experience when logging into Windows Vista. In entering my password, and logging into my account, I noticed improvements to responsiveness that weren't there before. After logging in to my PC - visually I saw no changes to the desktop shell. However, I did take notice to some minor tweaks to the UI in a few areas after some digging around. For example, the Search option has been removed from the Start menu," LeBlanc explained.
The Search option has disappeared from the Start menu as a direct consequence of the alterations Vista SP1 introduces in the default Desktop Search mechanism of the platform, made in order to accommodate third-party applications. The Disk Defragmenter has also been enhanced in SP1 allowing users to choose which of the volumes on the local hard drive they wish to defragment. Additionally, Windows BitLocker is now capable of encrypting additional partitions and drives on top of the volume containing the Vista installation.
"I've also taken notice to improvements in overall responsiveness of my PCs. Improvements were also noticeable in resuming from Hibernation or Sleep on both my desktop PC and laptop running SP1. I discovered copying files from one directory to another is a bit faster. And on my laptop - battery life seems to be improved since running SP1. I have also noticed that transferring files to my shares on my Windows Home Server are a bit faster than they were previously without SP1. Overall performance in accessing my mapped network shares is improved as well. I store quite a bit of data on my Windows Home Server so this was a huge plus for me. These are just some of the performance improvements I've seen running SP1 so far," LeBlanc said.