Vista SP1 Doesn’t Kill Software, Bad Coders Do

You can always trust The Register to do what it can to twist the facts into a nice, juicy headline. This time, it’s about Windows Vista SP1, and the very short list of software that’s adversely affected by its installation.

Don’t get this wrong: we’ve got our own reservations about SP1 (between performance and usability – or, more accurately, the lack thereof). But Microsoft is not to blame because certain system tools and utilities won’t run on Windows Vista SP1 when it’s released in March.

According to The Register, "Vista SP1 kills and maims security apps, utilities" and that it’s somehow Microsoft’s fault that antivirus/firewall software by BitDefender, Jiangmin, Trend Micro, and Zone Alarm no longer works on SP1 – but it seems they forgot to mention two facts:

  1. It’s bad coding habits that breaks these utilities.
  2. Thanks to pre-release builds of Vista SP1, all 5 malware-protection programs have updated versions available that are Vista SP1 compatible and shouldn’t give their users any problems come mid-March and SP1.

Microsoft may have many faults and may have made many mistakes starting with Windows Vista’s initial release, but one thing they have done right is give developers (software and hardware alike) plenty of time to test their products against SP1 builds and plenty of opportunity to find out why they no longer work.

We’ve studied (and indeed, ran into) some of the issues that these programs experience under SP1 in our own code. In our testing, it seems that these incompatibilities only occur when developers attempt to use undocumented/unofficial workarounds to gain access to system operations, work around UAC limitations, and interface with the desktop & other running applications.

Following the guidelines published on MSDN (at least those marked as "Vista-compatible"), software can be written that correctly provides an interface between services, desktop applications, UAC, the internet, and low-level subsystems including drivers and raw access to disks and files – albeit with a lot of extra work and with some monetary expenses (namely, signed drivers).

At the end of the day, Vista SP1 may be many things but one thing it’s not is a compatibility sinkhole. Especially when compared to the problems experienced back in the days of Windows XP SP2’s release, the list of broken applications on Windows Vista is appreciably short – and moot, seeing as new versions of the software have already addressed the issues satisfactorily.

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  • One thought on “Vista SP1 Doesn’t Kill Software, Bad Coders Do

    1. I had similar thoughts on IE7 when it came out. It had been in public beta for a year, plenty of time for web developers to check and see what was different. And there was one Mac OS X upgrade I remember that had lots of people complaining that it “broke” their software because they changed API calls — except that the API in question hadn’t been frozen yet, with Apple suggesting that people not use it until it was.

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