Thoughts on Windows Vista SP1

As we’ve previously covered, a pre-beta build of Windows Vista SP1 has been leaked to the internet recently, and we’ve been busy checking it out. You’ll be glad to hear that, so far, we like what we see.

Rather than mucking through paragraphs of text and observations, here are some quick and to-the-point tidbits about what seems to have been improved so far:

  • Network browsing. When joining a domain, locating the AD server takes less than a second in SP1, and joining another 2 or so. In Vista RTM, locating the AD would take upwards of 10-20 seconds, and joining would also take just as long. Browsing network shares and NAS devices is definitely faster.
  • Setup is a bit slower – but that’s probably because this build doesn’t have the finishing touches and optimizations that were applied to Vista RTM with regards to compression and building.
  • The same applies to the file size: 3.06GB for SP1 x86 edition, verses the original 2.49GB for RTM – we expect it to go back down a bit, maybe around 2.8GB in the final SP1 release.
  • Performance of filesystem-intensive activities such as copying, moving, and deleting files is greatly increased – probably due to the reliability & performance patches Microsoft released last week on Windows Update.
  • General increased responsiveness in Internet Explorer 7. On older PCs, Internet Explorer’s user-interface related performance – especially with regards to opening and closing new tabs and links – was iffy at best, prone to hang-ups and insane redraw times. Seems to be improved, but it’s too early to tell for sure, especially since with Windows Vista RTM IE7 seemed to get became slower by the day.
  • Definitely faster explorer.exe response times for the start menu (nope, still slow!) and My Computer, as well as browsing of large files and directories.
  • Updated signatures for device detection: now correctly identifies certain out-dated devices as incompatible – especially some of the older sound cards.
  • Faster loading and switching between dialogs and system settings.
  • The UAC Networked Printer Bug is gone!


In Conclusion…

In our brief and subjective testing of Windows Vista SP1, we’ve found this pre-release Windows Vista SP1 Beta to be quite an improvement over the original (and, objectively speaking, very bad) RTM release. It’s way too early to actually make any judgements here, but we feel comfortable saying that SP1 just might be one hell of a good service pack when it comes out.

While some other reviews (well-written and otherwise) around the net have simply said that Vista SP1 “flies,” we’d stop short of making such an observation; being fully aware of the placebo effect a new build can create, and the danger of believing what you wish to be true. But suffice to say that there most certainly is a dramatic improvement in the performance of certain parts of the operating system that, overall,  undoubtedly contribute to a more positive end-user experience.

During the Vista Beta, by the RC2 milestone we were panicking about the sorry state of Vista and hoping against hope that RTM wouldn’t be as bad; today, we’re really happy to report that this latest build fills us with hope and we’re looking forward to seeing more improvements and bug-fixes as the official beta program unfolds.

8 thoughts on “Thoughts on Windows Vista SP1

  1. Maybe SP1 will fix the problem I have occasionally where I open up my User folder and explorer.exe crashes and has to restart…

  2. I don’t know if it does/will, but there is a really handy hack that has each “instance” of explorer.exe run in its own memeory space.

    I can’t remember the registry change needed to activite this – when I do I’ll post back.

    Basically, when a window in explorer.exe crashes, only that window goes down. Your desktop, other open explorer windows, and everthing else keeps chugging merrily along.

    If anyone reading this has any idea what registry hack I’m talking about, please do share!

  3. That sounds like something that should be the default… I actually wonder why it suddenly crashes like that, it seems odd.

  4. Originally it’s because it wasn’t recommended for anyone with less than 256MB of memory :lol:

    Since then? I don’t know. But when I applied it to Vista RTM back in 2006, it became ten-times as stable, and didn’t take much more memory than it usually did (though each process now runs in its own memory space).

    For the life of me, I cannot find this hack anywhere…. I had stumbled across it in an old XP registry tweaking guide, but can’t find it again. Anyone?

  5. Something tells me nobody’s running Vista with 256MBs of RAM. :P I’ve got 2GBs, anyways, so I doubt I would notice a difference…

    I’ll check in my XP Hacking book later.

  6. I don’t know the registry value, but you can enable separate explorer tasks via checking “Launch folder windows in a separate process” in the folder view options.

  7. Well, I just upgraded to Vista SP1. At the moment there is not much of s difference in the performance, but hey at least it’s not crashing!

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