Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Microsoft Formally Announces Windows Vista SP1

Microsoft formally announced the long-awaited and widely speculated Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows Vista today as "Evolving Approach to Servicing the Windows Platform." SP1 will be released to a small group of beta testers within the next several weeks. From there, testing will expand, with the release of SP1 expected in the first quarter of 2008.

If you have been holding off getting a new PC or an upgrade until the release of SP1, you will see from the information below, that although SP1 will provide improvements, it should not be compared to Windows XP SP2. Windows Vista is already a secure and stable operating system. So, why wait? See if your computer is ready with the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor.

In a PressPass interview of Jon DeVaan, senior vice president of the Windows Core Operating System division at Microsoft, Mr. DeVaan characterized SP1 this way:

"DeVaan: I should start by saying that one thing people shouldn’t expect to see is new features, although some existing components and features will be enhanced. For example, we’ve added support in BitLocker Drive Encryption for encrypting multiple volumes on the PC, and have improved printer management by simplifying printing to a local printer from within a Terminal Server session. Service packs typically are not vehicles for new features, and the same will be true with Windows Vista SP1.

Windows Vista SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing feedback from our customers across a number of areas. In addition to all the fixes delivered via other channels like Windows Update, Windows Vista SP1 will address specific reliability and performance issues that have been discussed on many self-help forums, such as copying files and shutdown time. It will support new types of hardware and emerging standards, like EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) and ExFat (a new file format that will be used in flash memory storage and consumer devices). It will also include some management, deployment, and support improvements, such as adding the ability to detect and correct common file sharing problems to Network Diagnostics. Windows Vista SP1 also will include Secure Development Lifecycle process updates, where we identify the root cause of each security bulletin and improve our internal tools to eliminate code patterns that could lead to future vulnerabilities.

As we’ve done in the past, we will document all of the changes through our site in a Knowledge Base article, which will be available around the time the beta is released."
SP1 will include an enhancement to some features and existing components, including support in BitLocker Drive Encryption for encrypting multiple volumes on the PC. However, Microsoft is not waiting for SP1 to deliver updates to customers. For example, yesterday, Microsoft released two updates to improve performance and reliability, KB 938194 and KB 938979. In addition, through the cooperation of vendors, Microsoft has been better able to provide driver updates via Windows Update.

The information below from the Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Beta White Paper, describes many of the security, reliability, and performance improvements that will be in Windows Vista SP1.


Security improvements that will be in Windows Vista SP1 include:

  • Provides security software vendors a more secure way to communicate with Windows Security Center.
  • Includes application programming interfaces (APIs) by which third-party security and malicious software detection applications can work with kernel patch protection on x64 versions of Windows Vista. These APIs help ISVs develop software that extends the functionality of the Windows kernel on x64 computers without disabling or weakening the protection offered by kernel patch protection.
  • Improves the security of running RemoteApp programs and desktops by allowing Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) files to be signed. Customers can differentiate user experiences based on publisher identity.
  • Adds an Elliptical Curve Cryptography (ECC) pseudo-random number generator (PRNG) to the list of available PRNGs in Windows Vista.
  • Enhances BitLocker Drive Encryption (BDE) to offer an additional multifactor authentication method that combines a key protected by the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) with a Startup key stored on a USB storage device and a user-generated personal identification number (PIN).


Windows Vista SP1 will include improvements that target some of the most common causes of crashes and hangs, giving users a more consistent experience. Many of these improvements will specifically address issues identified from the Windows Error Reporting tool. The following list describes some of the reliability improvements that Windows Vista SP1 will include:

  • Improved reliability and compatibility of Windows Vista when used with newer graphics cards in several specific scenarios and configurations.
  • Improved reliability when working with external displays on a laptop.
  • Improved Windows Vista reliability in networking configuration scenarios.
  • Improved reliability of systems that were upgraded from Windows XP to Windows Vista.
  • Increased compatibility with many printer drivers.
  • Increased reliability and performance of Windows Vista when entering sleep and resuming from sleep.


The following list describes some of the performance improvements that Windows Vista SP1 will include:

  • Improves the speed of copying and extracting files.
  • Improves the time to become active from Hibernate and Resume modes.
  • Improves the performance of domain-joined PCs when operating off the domain; in the current release version of Windows Vista, users would experience long delays when opening the File dialog box.
  • Improves performance of Windows® Internet Explorer® 7 in Windows Vista, reducing CPU utilization and speeding JavaScript parsing.
  • Improves battery life by reducing CPU utilization by not redrawing the screen as frequently, on certain computers.
  • Improves the logon experience by removing the occasional 10-second delay between pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL and the password prompt displaying.
  • Addresses an issue in the current version of Windows Vista that makes browsing network file shares consume significant bandwidth and not perform as fast as expected.

Administration Experience

Many of the changes in Windows Vista SP1 will improve the deployment, management, and support experience for Windows Vista customers. The following list describes some of these enhancements:

  • BitLocker Drive Encryption encrypts extra local volumes. For example, instead of encrypting only drive C, customers can also encrypt drive D, E, and so on.
  • Addresses problems with printing to local printers from a Windows® Terminal Services session.
  • The Network Diagnostics tool will help customers solve the most common file sharing problems, in addition to the basic problems that it already diagnoses.
  • Administrators can control the volumes on which to run Disk Defragmenter."


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