A Month with Windows Vista SP1

Windows Vista™, build 6.0.6001.18000, was released to manufacturing three weeks ago. 

After over a month working with the RTM bits – which I received prior to RTM, and greatly expanding our test to select customer sites, we have seen better driver coverage, increased performance, and no unexpected compatibility issues.

This continued testing is necessary to uncover the bugs, if any, contained in the interaction between Windows Vista and other systems in your operating environment.

One of the supposed pain points in a Windows Vista migration is the tedium and issue-prone nature of the upgrade process. Neither my staff nor I have encountered any stop events in the migration process.

To see if a Windows Vista migration is really that hard to perform, I (very unscientifically) asked my 13 year old nephew to take a system I had just installed Windows XP SP2 on, and update it to Windows Vista SP1, starting with an update to Windows Vista RTM (build 6000).

He was able to perform that update using written-down instructions and prompts on the screen.

Without any problems whatsoever.

The system specs are 4 or 5-year old Compaq Presario NX, AMD Athlon 3000+, 2GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce FX5500 256MB, with a Windows Experience Index of 2.6.

If you are still waiting for bad news about Windows Vista before formulating a migration plan, it might be a good idea to keep your curriculum vitae updated in the interim, for I fear you will need it before bad news comes down the wire.

My SmallBizVista.com Windows review of Windows Vista SP1 is reprinted below in its entirety.

My Windows Server 2008 review will be posted here next week.

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The SmallBizVista.com Windows Vista SP1 Review

I have been testing Microsoft Windows Vista™ SP1 for the past several months.

Windows Vista SP1 is a worthy compatibility and optimization pack to Windows Vista. It is NOT a replacement for Windows Vista.

Contrary to the either uninformed writings of some so-called tech pundits, and the unprepared CYA rants of lazy IT administrators, it was NOT necessary to wait for SP1.

WHY A SERVICE PACK?

As is customary for Redmond, after the release of any of their operating systems, Microsoft continuously strives to improve the OS by providing users with ongoing updates via patches, hotfixes, etc. Microsoft also works with software vendors to improve compatibility with Windows. They also attempt to ride herd on hardware OEMs in order to improve on delivered drivers or get them to product drivers for products if they have not already done so.

WHAT WINDOWS VISTA SP1 IShere).

Windows Vista SP1, in a nutshell, is an evolutionary update to Windows Vista that includes a rollup of all updates, hotfixes, and patches (A list of hotfixes and patches, current as of December 2007 can be found

WHAT WINDOWS VISTA SP1 IS NOTWindows Vista SP1 is not a new version of Microsoft Windows Vista. There are no UI changes, or a myriad number of new features added to the operating system.

TEST HARDWARE

To test Windows Vista SP1, SmallBizVista.com used the following systems:

  • AMD Athlon 64 x2 5000 desktop, 4GB RAM, AMD x1950 Pro 256MB

  • AMD Athlon 64 x2 FX desktop, 4GB RAM, dual x1950 Pro 512MB

  • HP tx1000 notebook, AMD Turion 64 x2, 2GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce Go 6150 128+128

  • Toshiba Tecra M7 Tablet PC, Intel Core 2 Duo T7200, 2GB RAM, Nvidia Quadro NVS 110M 128+128MB

  • Our Reference unit was a Compaq Presario NX, AMD Athlon 3000+, 2GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce FX5500 256MB, running Windows XP SP2

  • The systems were connected at various times to a Microsoft Windows 2003 Server SBS R2 domain, and to a Windows Server 2008 domain.

MICROSOFT ASSESSMENT & PLANNING V3.0 BETA

An indispensible tool at Logikworx was Windows Vista Hardware Assessment, which has now evolved into Microsoft Assessment & Planning, or MAP v3.0, still in beta.

When we set up our network, we ran the assessment component of MAP against the systems on the network, and voila, we found out that our reference XP system could run Windows Vista, and in ‘Aero Glass’ as well. How cool was that? All the system was taken out of mothballs (at NoCal LogikLabs) to do was be an XP reference unit. We duly upgraded that system to Vista. And it works.

Thanks, Baldwin. (Baldwin Ng is a Senior Program Manager on the Microsoft Solutions Accelerators team, and is responsible for MAP.)

TEST SCENARIOS

We clean-installed Windows Vista RTM on all units. We also installed Microsoft Office, Windows Live suite, and Foxit Reader. We then upgraded each system to Windows Vista SP1.

For the basic consumer scenario, we used Windows Live OneCare for client protection, and used Kaspersky and AVG anti-virus for SMB testing scenarios.

Application compatibility. My primary concern in any new OS or version upgrade is application compatibility.

So far, we have not see any gotchas, even when running software seemingly coded expressly for Windows XP, such as physician’s EMR and practice management suites. Most mainstream software packages have been retooled for Windows Vista, and only custom software remains.

At Logikworx clients, I have been exhorting clients and their respective ISVs to deliver Windows Vista compatible software for the past eighteen months, as a lead in to the Vista era.

You should do the same in your environment.

If your ISV either does not want to produce a Vista-compatible port of your LOB software, or cannot, your business is at risk, for unlike the custom software, Windows Vista is here to stay.

Can your business rely on a lazy or indifferent ISV?

Connectivity. In our homogenous Microsoft Windows networks, we have had no problems connecting numerous devices and systems.

When you add the addition of Certified for Windows Vista (CfWV) devices, the effortless network connectivity of Vista-based devices is unparalleled.

Security. While Microsoft was excoriated unfairly for the incessant nag prompts of UAC, I am pleased to report that they stayed the course and did not dumb down the system. Though UAC seems to be less intrusive right now, probably due to stricter triggers, the fundamental reasoning behind UAC thankfully remains.

Reliability. One of the cornerstones upon which SP1 rests is in reliability improvements.

I am pleased to announce that while the reliability of Vista RTM was already an upgrade of Windows XP, SP1 seems to continue the trend of improving on predecessors. Vista RTM and SP1 are rock solid. Period.

Performance. Improved. In almost every facet. Considering the heavy visual requirements of Windows Vista Aero, Windows Vista delivered solid performance, falling behind in some file copy and network connection scenarios. Windows Vista eliminates most of those issues.

In our tests, SP1 showed very perceptible increases in performance across the board, in rendering, file operations, and network connectivity.

In all, SP1 is a worthy update to Vista RTM

THE FOLLY OF WAITING FOR GODOT

One of the most astonishing developments in the blogosphere this past year and two months, was the surprise with which the release of Windows Vista caught quite a few inept IT managers.

To cover up their incompetency, these managers then started chanting for the release of Windows Vista SP1 as if it was a panacea for all their issues and might somehow cover their negligence.

Equally incompetent members of the press took up the banner as well and ran with it, never asking why the release was such a surprise when there had been more than enough time to acquire a beta and test against it.

All they wanted to accomplish with SP1 could have been done with Vista RTM, and the experience gained would have been invaluable.

Well, Microsoft will release SP1 shortly, maybe timing it to coincide with the launch of Windows Server 2008 at the end of this month.

At the renaming of Windows Vista from the Longhorn beta, the messaging from Microsoft was centered around three precepts: Clear, Connected, Confident.

Windows Vista RTM had it all. Windows Vista SP1 only enhances that.

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