Vista SP1 benefit will be stability and reliability, not performance

Vista SP1 benefit will be stability and reliability, not performance

Summary: Will Vista SP1 and how this won't bring any relief to those who find Vista a bit slow or sluggish? Not really, but then again service packs aren't about performance increases; they're about reliability and stability.

SHARE:

Will Vista SP1 and how this won't bring any relief to those who find Vista a bit slow or sluggish?  Not really, but then again service packs aren't about performance increases; they're about reliability and stability.

I've seen a lot of service packs in my time.  Windows 95 and ME 98 (Win 98 actually got what's called a "Customer Service Pack") both got one service pack, NT 4.0 saw six, Windows 2000 had four and XP has so far seen two.  But what I don't remember regarding any of these service packs is installing it onto a system and then seeing any significant boost in performance.  Service packs don't really work that way.  Sure, you'll feel specific improvements as a result of some of the tweaks and fixes contained in the service pack, and you might feel the benefit of having your operating system refreshed by loading the service pack onto it, but a service pack should not be looked upon as a performance upgrade.  If your system can't run an OS, what it needs is upgrading or replacing, not the application of a service pack.

With Windows Vista SP1 on the horizon it's time to cut through the hyperbole, speculation and myth and get down to reality.  Now that Microsoft has released a preview of the release candidate of SP1 we no longer need to make wild guesses.  By marking this preview as a release candidate we know that barring any last minute bug fixes, this is what SP1 will look and feel like when it's finally released. 

I've been running Vista SP1 on a number of non-critical systems now since it was made available and overall I've been very pleased with it.  I've been running Vista since the day that it went RTM over a year ago and since then the operating system has matured greatly, not only as a result of hardware vendors releasing better drivers, but also because Microsoft has been drip-feeding users updates designed to improves stability, reliability and performance.  These updates will be rolled into SP1, which means that those who have been keeping up with will already be benefiting from them, while those that haven't and who are waiting for SP1, they'll see the benefits after installing the service pack.  It's important to realize that these aren't "blow your hair back" improvements, rather smaller, more subtle increases in performance.  For example, bringing a system back from sleep is a little faster and more reliable, and the OS generally feels snappier.  None of this translates into improved frame rate when gaming or decreased production time in applications such as Adobe Photoshop or Premiere, but it's nice to have nonetheless.

Vista SP1 benefit will be stability and reliability, not performanceI've run some quite detailed benchmarks on Windows Vista but because of the restrictive EULA I can't share this information with you freely at present.  However, the truth is that there's not much to tell.  Take a Vista RTM install and then install SP1 over the top and you find that the system boots up a little faster, recovers from sleep a little faster, shuts down faster and generally feels a little snappier and more responsive than it did) especially when recovering from sleep), but these performance gains aren't huge.  In other words, if Vista was sluggish on your system before SP1 then, assuming drivers and other software remains the same, Vista will be sluggish after SP1.  What you want isn't a service pack but an upgrade (adding more RAM usually does the trick, especially if you're trying to run Vista on 512MB or RAM or less) or a replacement system.  Systems running Vista that are close to or below the minimum recommended specification for the OS aren't magically better under SP1.

To be honest though, while I know that some people are finding Vista slow, this isn't the main problem with Vista.  What the people who dislike Vista don't like isn't performance (on a decent system Vista runs well and the only real reservation I have about the OS is when it comes to gaming) but applications compatibility, reliability and how Microsoft has chosen to lay things out in the OS.  Updates and SP1 will address compatibility and reliability, but won't bring any changes to the way things look, feel and behave.  If you didn't like the way Vista looked or worked before RTM, don't expect SP1 to change this.

Regarding XP SP3:  Just for the record, I've installed XP SP3 onto a few systems too and don't see the 10% performance gains being discussed elsewhere.  Different benchmarks result in different conclusions but using traditional and established benchmarks, I don't see any significant performance boost from installing XP SP3, other than that which you get when refreshing the OS. 

Getting to the bottom line here, there's a lot of hype generated around Vista SP1, and to make any kind of sane decision you have to cut through that.  Here are my suggestions:

  • My suggestion for anyone who's been waiting for SP1 to emerge before rolling out Vista is for them to take an objective look at the OS once it's released (or when the RC is released to the public) and see for yourself what it's like on your systems and use the information that you gather as a basis for making a decision as to whether to go with Vista or not. 
  • If you're already using Vista then take your time upgrading to SP1, especially if you've already installed all the updates for your OS.  Don't rush it because there could be unforeseen downsides that you might need to plan for (I've not come across any yet but that doesn't mean that there aren't any). 
  • If/when you come to install SP1, give yourself plenty of time because it can take over an hour and a number of reboots to install. Oh, and make sure you have a system backup, just in case.
  • If you're a gamer and using XP, you might be better off sticking to XP for now unless you've the time and money to throw more hardware at your system.  If you're out to get the best frame rate possible from games, then definitely stick to XP for now.
  • Everyone else ... well, you won't be interested in Vista with or without SP1 ...

Thoughts?

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

75 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Most people

    will be more than happy with better stability and reliability at the expense of performance. Not everybody of course, but then again most of those people would be better off looking at the alternatives anyway.

    Most people aren't looking to shave seconds off their video encoding or increase a few frames per second in their video games. They just want a good breadth of useful software that works well with no unexplainable crashes or bugs. If MS can just accomplish that then they've won their target audience.
    Michael Kelly
    • I agree. (nt)

      .
      No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Yes, most people will settle for the drug Microsoft gives them.

      Why look for better weed when you can get such a nice bjob from Microsoft?
      nomoremicrosoft
      • And what's wrong with that?

        Personally, I think the issue is that you haven't been getting such a good one from MS, although the potential has always been there. Kind of like having a hot girlfriend who doesn't know what she's doing, and you hope that given enough time and repetition she'll figure it out.

        MS could be on the brink of figuring it out. The problem is that every time you think that they've finally gotten it, they regress.
        Michael Kelly
  • Say what !!!

    I thought Vista was stable and reliable already . As for the speed/performance , Vista
    SUX , it's still twice as slow as XP . Windows XP SP3 will also make XP even faster when
    it debuts in the beginning of 2008 . With all the resources available at Microsoft ,
    you'd think that all their software would be PRIMO . Guess not ,,,
    Intellihence
    • Message has been deleted.

      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • Message has been deleted.

        Intellihence
    • i see the troll Leopard is talking about things he knows nothing about

      i see the troll Leopard is talking about things he knows nothing about again.

      vista runs just as fast as xp and just as fast as osx.

      all though i can't say running it under boot camp makes it slower because i would not install vista on a mac.

      for someone who does not use vista or has tried to install it on an old obsolete mac you know nothing but as usual are just trolling making statements that make you look like a noob.
      SO.CAL Guy
      • Son you are speaking to the choir .

        . As you would know what kind of machines and software OS's I run on them . if
        anything I don't feel the need to explain to you what I have . You are just a lowly
        shill riding on my coat tail . Say what you want , but Vista is definitely slower than
        any service pack available for XP . here's my link ,

        http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/11/26/0643230

        and here's another

        http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?
        command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9048658&intsrc=hm_list

        As far as anyone is concerned , Vista could never match the speeds of OS X . You
        claim that Vista is faster than any other OS available to date . The burden of proof
        now lies on your shoulders . Where's your proof/links ? You are just like the rest of
        the babbling MS shills here on ZDNET who are out for personal attacks . For the
        record your stupidity is showing . Now put up your proof or STFU !
        Intellihence
        • when you know what your talking about Leopard anyone can find a link

          when you know what your talking about Leopard anyone can find a link to try and back up things they know nothing about.

          and talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

          your the biggest shill that post on ZDnet ;)
          SO.CAL Guy
      • Huh?

        That's just crazy talk! ;-)

        But really, in my experience, and I have now used XP, Vista and OSX quite a bit (not virtualized), Vista is by far the slowest of the three. OSX and XP seem to be similar in terms of speed, assuming you don't have AV running on XP, which I don't.

        Anecdotal, of course, but all I can really rely on is my own experience.
        lostarchitect
      • Leopard is Right, Vista is Sluggish

        This fact is widely reported. What Intel giveth, Microsoft taketh away. The real question is what did you get for the pain of upgrading? There is simply no compelling reason to upgrade to Vista.
        chessmen
    • Well, it could be worse

      it could be OSX Leopard!

      With all the resources at Apple, and with that kind of total control over all aspects of software and hardware design [i]you'd think that all their software would be PRIMO . Guess not ,,,[/i]

      So hard to beleive they could not get it right on their own hardware. Now [i]that[/i] is what is known as "embarrassing", maybe even downright "inexcusable"

      See all your arguments work both ways "Leopard is Licking it's Wounds"
      GuidingLight
  • RE: Vista SP1 benefit will be stability and reliability, not performance

    The issue people have is the fact that they're being penalised in the performance department, even on relatively new machines that have it preloaded. I'm not talking el-cheapo machines but dual core, 2gig laptops with the latest graphics cards.

    What I think is the greatest crime is Windows Vista Ultimate and the lack of delivery on these 'premium extras'. Atleast when I'm a Mac user, I didn't have to shell out NZ$800 for an operating system to get all the features I needed, it came already with Leopard, which would only set me back (had I not qualified for uptodate) NZ$199.
    Kaiwai
    • bad performance on high end?

      Where? I have a Core Duo system, fairly high end (doesn't have the Extreme core, but a high end quad) and no issues with Vista. Am I saying no one will? Of course not. That would make me a liar. I can only speak from my experience, and I have been content with Vista. No "driver issues" (running x64 even), no random crashes, I use the Media Extender on my 360 (I had some issues with weirdly encoded video I had to Re-encode to something it understood) to watch videos and DVR. rarely do i see the UAC unless I am installing something, and I have not noticed it popping up any more often than the equivalent in my Ubuntu partition I play EVE-Online and it runs better than on my t42 with XP. Not only that, but likely, with the update to EVE-Online coming this next month, I will not be able to play it anymore on the laptop with out stuttering, as the graphics are getting a huge boost, and as much as my t42 has been a solid machine, it is getting long in the tooth.

      I myself have not had issues. I didn't pay 607.396 USD (rough translation of 800NZD). Suggested retail price for full package product, $399.00 USD (525.714 NZD), so you blatantly lied about the price, and I despise blatant liars, which also makes you a shill, and someones opinion that can not be taken with any seriousness becuase you do not RESEARCH first.
      ivanotter
  • Windows ME had a service pack??!!

    Sources please. I don't believe this for a minute.
    wizec
    • Yes, ME Had A Service Pack

      It was called XP.
      itanalyst
      • No, it didn't

        But I can appreciate a tongue-in-cheek reply :-)
        wizec
        • Windows ME was the ultimate failure.

          MS never released a CD or DVD with all the patches and service fixs for ME. You must download 27 different patches (security updates, IE, etc.) instead of simply installing a service pack. They were too busy fixing the bugs in Windows 2000 and W2K3.
          nomoremicrosoft
          • ME wasn't so bad for me

            The last time I re-installed XP and SP2 I still had to download over 90 additional patches from the Windows update site.

            My own experience with ME was not too bad. I had very few problems with it.
            lashmun