I’ve quietly been testing Microsoft Windows Vista Service Pack 1 since it was in its very early days of development. The update that is determined to “save Vista” is finally out, but I’ve been using it long enough to give you an informed opinion on it.
Many fear Service Pack releases. I don’t know why. Some claim they horribly ruin their Windows experience each time, only to upgrade months later and act like nothing bad happened. It’s that kind of perpetual fear of service packs that I won’t ever understand.
However, I will say that Vista SP1 is rock-solid in the stability department. This is one area that folks really didn’t have much to complain about in regards to the XP-vs-Vista debate. Performance? Better. Does everything feel as snappy as XP? No, but the big gripes have been addressed. File transfers are up to speed, as is deleting files.
So, what’s new? Well, not much you’ll see. There’s a lot of under-the-hood stuff like EFI support, major networking improvements, and all those hotfixes you weren’t given access to. But, in terms of sweeping user interface changes, sorry… the changes are so subtle, most won’t notice them (and that’s coming from a perfectionist myself).
Should you update Vista to SP1? Absolutely, the moment it gets released… update to SP1. Should you upgrade from XP? I can’t answer that for you. I will say that I find Vista to be an acceptable upgrade to XP, and this service pack takes out most of the complaints. Still, Vista is a glossy version of XP with Media Center, DirectX 10, and all those Ultimate Extras… which will come out some time before Windows 7… hopefully.
The state of Windows got a little bit better, but I suspect SP1 won’t woo over those who have already pledged loyalty to XP over Vista. Microsoft still should take action to win those users over. SP1 still doesn’t have an XP-style interface (the basic interface is designed to pressure people to upgrade to Aero, and Aero is bloated and un-friendly to the XP loyalists). SP1 still doesn’t have Live integration (even XP allowed you to associate a Passport with an account). SP1’s under-the-hood improvements will have to be demonstrated to those already bitter to Vista, not a winning proposition.
My personal favorite feature in Vista SP1? No more forced activation! Granted, I have a black-screen-of-unactivatedness until I do activate Windows, but never again will I be locked out of my computer. That may be the start to win back some of those that have found Microsoft in violation of the law, for locking them out of their computer on the eve of an important deadline… like me.