Want Vista SP1? Here's what to expect

Want Vista SP1? Here's what to expect

Summary: When Microsoft released Windows Vista Service Pack 1 to manufacturing on February 4, they promised to make it available for the general public in mid-March. Today they delivered on that promise, making SP1 available to Windows Vista users through Windows Update and as a standalone installer package from the Microsoft Download Center. Here's what you need to know to get this update installed - and to find support if you need it.

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When Microsoft released Windows Vista Service Pack 1 to manufacturing on February 4, they promised to make it available for the general public in mid-March. Today they delivered on that promise, making SP1 available to Windows Vista users through Windows Update and as a standalone installer package from the Microsoft Download Center.

I covered most of the features of this service pack in detail in my earlier Vista SP1 FAQ and More Vista SP1 Answers, so I won’t rehash that information here. In this post and its accompanying image gallery, I’ll show you what you can expect from the public release.

[Want to see what the SP1 experience looks like, step by step? Don't miss my exclusive Windows Vista SP1 Image Gallery.]

First things first: SP1 won’t be installed on your system automatically. (Automatic Updates won’t begin for at least another month, and even then they’ll be rolled out slowly.) In fact, you might not even know SP1 is available unless you manually check Windows Update. If you meet the qualifications, you’ll see the download listed as an Important update.

Windows Vista Service 1 via Windows Update

If you don’t see this update in the list of available updates, you might be blocked temporarily by one of the following issues:

  • You are running a version of Windows Vista (or have a language pack installed) for a language other than the five available in this release: English, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese. (I ran into this issue last month, on a system that had the Italian language pack installed.) In that case, you’ll have to uninstall the language pack or wait till the full international release is available in a few months.
  • You might not have installed the prerequisite updates. SP1 requires updates to the so-called servicing stack (the code that handles updates) and, for Ultimate edition, for Bitlocker disk encryption. If you see other available updates, install them first and then try Windows Update again.
  • You might have a hardware component that is using one of a handful of drivers known to cause minor problems with SP1. The issues aren’t catastrophic, I’m told, and most experienced users can resolve the issues (changes to default settings or lost sound, for instance) quickly enough by reinstalling the problem driver. But those options aren’t acceptable for nontechnical users, so the Windows Update detection code blocks deployment of SP1 and offers fixed versions of some (but not all) of those drivers.

Other possible causes include a “known inconsistency in the file or registry structure,” a previous beta version of SP1 installed (uninstall it), and (ahem) you used vLite to modify Windows Vista. Microsoft’s Knowledge Base article 948343 helpfully includes the website address of vLite.

I read comments from some conspiracy theorists who cast doubt on Microsoft’s claim that some drivers were to blame for these issues. And Microsoft’s reluctance to name the affected drivers added fuel to the fire. But now the list is public, in that same KB article. If you would like to check your own driver installation manually, here’s the complete list of blocked drivers with version numbers (where two driver files are listed, the second is a 64-bit version):

Audio drivers

  • Realtek AC'97 (Alcxwdm.sys and Alcwdm64.sys - version 6.0.1.6242 or earlier)
  • SigmaTel (Sthda.sys and Sthda64.sys - version 5.10.5762.0 or earlier)
  • SigmaTel (Stwrt.sys Stwrt64.sys - version 6.10.5511.0 or earlier)
  • Creative Audigy (Ctaud2k.sys - version 6.0.1.1242 or earlier; P17.sys – all versions)
  • Conexant HD Audio (Chdart.sys and Chdart64.sys - version 4.32.0.0 or earlier)

Biometric (Fingerprint) Sensors

  • AuthenTec Fingerprint Sensor (Atswpdrv.sys – version 7.7.1.7 or earlier)
  • UPEK Fingerprint Sensor (Tcusb.sys driver file – version 1.9.2.99 or earlier)

Display drivers

  • Intel Display (Igdkmd32.sys and Igdkmd64.sys – versions between and including driver 7.14.10.1322 and 7.14.10.1403)

Other drivers

  • Texas Instruments Smart Card Controller (GTIPCI21.sys – version 1.0.1.19 or earlier)
  • Sierra Wireless AirCard 580 with the Watcher.exe application – version 3.4.0.9 or earlier
  • Symantec software driver for Symantec Endpoint Protection and for Symantec Network Access Control clients (Wgx.sys and Wgx64.sys – versions 11.0.1000.1091 or earlier)

According to Microsoft, tech support lines have been beefed up to handle issues related to SP1 beginning today. In a welcome change from the normal policy, you can call for free support on SP1–related issues even if you purchased an OEM copy of Windows Vista preinstalled on a new computer. E-mail, chat, and phone support are all available. Vista SP1 has its own dedicated support page (if you’re outside the U.S., you might need to start at support.microsoft.com and find the appropriate links for your country).

A standalone installer is now available for download as well. But beware: it's a 434 MB download, compared with the 65-70 MB you'll get through the custom installation available from Windows Update. Unless you're planning to update 5 or more computers, you'll have better luck with Windows Update.

If you’ve installed SP1, let me know how it went in the Talkback section below. I’m especially interested in hearing firsthand reports from anyone who uses the support options.

Topics: Software, Operating Systems

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Talkback

257 comments
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  • SP1

    I just installed the big SP1 and so far, no problems in the last 45 minutes.

    Instalation time appeared shorter than some of the Beta versions, but I could just be getting used to it.
    DKlippert
  • Vista SP1 Install

    Downloaded and installe dSP1 this AM. Everything went smooth (even though it took about an hour with 2 reboots). I can tell the system is a little snappier with the indicated quicker percieved file move and copy. All drivers still worked and there was not one adverse change.

    A happy customer!
    judson@...
    • Sounds like it fixed those anoying speed issues

      They weren't critical but highly anoying. That's a good sign.
      voska1
      • slowly they are becoming a match for amiga 0:)

        I compared filecopy on the sp1 via explorer
        to filecopy on my xp with directory opus ...

        ^5 !!! and it just took a few decades.
        llval@...
  • Windows Vista SP1

    I had a really good experience installing Vista SP1. It was a 20 minute download, 20 minutes for the first part of the install, a single reboot, and about a half hour to complete the install. I am really glad SP1 is finally out. Installing all the other updates took forever compared to SP1.
    sticky359
    • Vista SP1 success

      Its good to see another person actually wiling to say that the SP1 installation went smoothly. My whole installation went so well that everything happened automatically. This computer is an FX530XV with factory loaded Vista Ultimate with 4Gb memory. I've not had any trouble through the whole life of the computer which was last April; it works MUCH better than the XPsp2 on my last machine.
      CharlesEtheridge@...
  • RE: Want Vista SP1? Here's what to expect

    HOGWASH !!! i love lipstick on a pig !!
    so far so good....no issues...waiting to hit rollback if needed.
    Dallas DOC
  • RE: Want Vista SP1? Here's what to expect

    The big question for me is what vehicle will MS provide its customers that want a pre-slipstreamed DVD of Vista SP1?

    Is MS going to provide such a DVD or an ISO of such a DVD to their customers for a nominal cost (shipping/handling for mailing physical DVD)?
    nstuff
    • In a word, no!

      They have never provided slipstreamed versions with the realease of a service pack.
      ShadeTree
    • yes you go out and buy a vista sp1 dvd with it's shiped.

      yes you go out and buy a vista sp1 dvd with it's shiped. what do you want them to spoon feed you to ?
      SO.CAL Guy
    • Vista SP1 is available From MS

      MS is passing out copies of Vista Ultimate with SP1 at thier launch events and it is available in all flavors on MSDN and I suspect TechNet.
      ausside
    • Wrong! small question with a simple solution...

      "... The big question for me is what vehicle will MS provide its customers that want a pre-slipstreamed DVD of Vista SP1?"

      Now look, i doubt any OS vendor is going to give you a slipstreamed installation disk. Why? simply put, as a business cost it's just not feasible. In the *unlikely and fantastic* event that vendors *did* produce post-initial slipstreamed disks, "let's just say" they'd be out-of-date almost as soon as they were shipped.

      I've got some free advice for you: i suggest you *learn how to make* a slipstreamed installation disk (if, that is, you don't already know how to). Ahh, and NO i'm not going to show you how to - suffice to say, that's why you have a working PC, internet access and know how to use a search engine. Besides, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to make one - and there are some good DIY guides available on the Net that take you thru the whole process.

      As an example, i've created backup disks for all OSes i have at home: Fedora 6, XP SP2 and WES03 - in the case of XP SP2 completely slipstreamed and including SP2. Great to have if you're dog decides to eat the original disk. ;^}

      At any rate, you could probably teach a well-mannered, docile and *relatively intelligent chimp* to carry out the process - given that the creature had the correctly configured hardware and a blank CD-R disk at its disposal.

      So! Welcome to the cold, hard IS-world ... and remember: if it aint been done - than do it yourself ... after all, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

      Regards.
      thx-1138_
      • Except...

        for the occasional promotional event...

        "... at their launch events and it is available in all flavors on MSDN."

        But as i alluded in the original post, don't expect mass produced slipstreamed-OS-install disks for regular retail sale.
        thx-1138_
  • RE: Want Vista SP1? Here's what to expect

    You won't catch me updating my wife's laptop to SP1. There should be no blocked drivers. What, they want me to update a driver that hasn't worked correctly since Vista was released? Get real please, I get 250 hits a day on my blog just for SigmaTel driver information. <br><br>

    Vista the WinME of this generation.....XP will last until 7.0 comes out, or I may move to a Mac.
    k12IT
    • Priceless

      [b]What, they want me to update a driver that hasn't worked correctly since Vista was released?[/b]

      No, you're much better off sticking with that old driver that has never worked correctly. That way you can keep on bashing Vista (and ME) long [i]past[/i] the time that 7.0 comes out.

      The only thing I can't figure out is why 250 people would go to you for advice about anything.
      CarlS
      • Clueless

        I can see you defending Vista, but Me?? I owned a computer shop when Me came out, and got so sick of wrestling with it, I literally told people the only fix was to upgrade to xp. Then, if they still had issues, we could address them after the upgrade. This tended to solve about 50% of the problems.

        So far, Vista does seem similar to Me, but only in the sense that it tries to be smarter than the user. My experience with Vista has been good so far, with my only annoyance is that it fights me when I want to change some configuration, even when I am logged in as Admin. Otherwise, I REALLY appreciate the safety features, which are draconian only out of necessity.
        6feet_
        • Get to know UAC

          "it fights me when I want to change some configuration, even when I am logged in as Admin..."

          Under Vista, when you are logged in as Admin, you are running with a standard user token. You have to "elevate" via UAC to use your Admin credentials.
          Ed Bott
          • Thank you

            I thought you were going to tell me to turn it off ;-) I do need to catch up on Vista.
            6feet_
          • Get to know UAC

            how do you "elevate" via UAC to use your Admin credentials.
            wexwimpy@...
          • You will be prompted!

            You will be told what is happening and asked if you want to proceed.
            ShadeTree