The shroud of secrecy is lifted: Vista SP1 beta due in two weeks

The shroud of secrecy is lifted: Vista SP1 beta due in two weeks

Summary: After months of all but denying the existence of Windows Vista Service Pack 1, Microsoft has finally gone public with a timetable and feature set for the awaited update. A beta for 10,000-plus testers starts in two weeks. The final SP1 ship target is Q1 2008.

TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft

After almost a year of hemming and hawing over how and when to acknowledge publicly its plans for Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1, Microsoft finally released on August 29 its officially-approved schedule and feature set for the awaited update.

Vista SP1 will go to about 10,000 to 15,000 selected beta testers by mid-September, officials said. The SP1 beta build will be made available to these testers for download form the Microsoft Connect site. A broader public beta of SP1 is likely around the time Microsoft delivers a release-candidate test build of the service pack, officials said, while declining to provide a timeframe for that build. The final "gold" release of SP1 is now slated for some time in Q1 2008.

Microsoft told selected testers earlier this summer it planned to release the final Vista SP1 in November 2007, around the same time as Windows Server 2008 went to manufacturing. Microsoft also announced on August 29 that it has delayed the release to manufacturing of Windows Server 2008 until Q1 2008.

The promised feature set for Vista SP1 is the same as the one Microsoft outlined earlier this summer when it first told selected testers details about is plans for the service pack. General Manager of Windows Product Management Shanen Boettcher said Microsoft plans to include in SP1 "all previously released updates" that the company has rolled out since Vista was released to manufacturing in November 2006. All of the performance and reliability fixes that Microsoft made available this summer via two mega Vista hotfix packs will be part of SP1.

Microsoft is refreshing "a significant number" (in the company's words) of Vista components in some way with this service pack, but does not believe application compatibility will be adversely affected as a result, Boettcher said.

On the short list of Vista SP1 features:

  • Support for Direct 3D 10.1
  • support for Secure Digital (SD) Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA) to improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization
  • Performance tweaks lessening the amount of time it takes to copy files, shut down and resume Vista machines
  • Support for ExFat, the Windows file format for flash memory storage and other consumer devices
  • Improvements to BitLocker Drive Encryption to allow not just encryption of the whole Vista volume, but also locally created data volumes
  • The ability to boot Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) on an x64 machine
  • Improvements to battery life by reducing CPU utilization be "not redrawing the screen as frequently, on certain computers"
  • Improvements to Internet Explorer 7 performance by reducing CPU utilization and speeding JavaScript parsing

While the final size of Vista SP1 is roughly what Microsoft told testers it was likely to be (45 MB planned, vs. 50 MB actual), this is the size of the SP as it will be delivered via Windows Update and Windows Software Update Services (WSUS) only. Standalone SP1 will be 1 GB for x86 systems. (See my ZDNet blogging colleague Ed Bott's post for more on this point.)

Vista SP1 has been in private beta testing with key OEM and Technology Adoption Program (TAP) testers for "a few months," said Boettcher. Several of the privately distributed pre-beta builds have leaked over the summer, in spite of Microsoft's non-disclosure policies surrounding all information pertaining to SP1.

Going forward -- beyond Q1 2008 when it delivers Vista SP1 and the final Windows Server 2008 code -- Microsoft is looking to more closely sync up the updates it is providing for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. Under a new and evolving "service model," Microsoft plans to provide customers with constant, regular fixes and updates to Windows client and server.

The goal is to deliver one set of updates that will be able to be applied simultaneously to both client and server. This will be possible because Vista and Windows Server 2008 are built atop the same core kernel, Boettcher said.How and if this new "servicing" model will impact the way Microsoft delivers future service packs for Vista and Windows Server 2008 is yet to be finalized, Boettcher said.

Microsoft still is telling customers not to wait for Vista SP1, and to proceed with testing and upgrades now. After hearing about what's coming in SP1, I can't imagine anyone planning to move to Vista not waiting for SP1.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Wow! This is news? Really?

  • Sigh,,, Nothing about UAC

    I guess users will just keep turning it off.
    • RE:Sigh,,, ...

      "I guess users will just keep turning <strike>it</strike> Micro$oft off."
      • Let us know how that plays out for the few 100...

    • Why turn it off?

      UAC is a great way to prevent web-based code to sneak into your system without your knowledge. Without it, you jst never know.
      M Wagner
      • Never mind that,

        I think it is grossly overstated how often UAC prompts come up. Sure, every time you install an application, but thats not much of an irritation - you have to click through the installer anyway. Aside from that, I almost never see them.

        I'm glad I decided to put up with UAC when I first started using Vista rather than turning it off. After the initial setup it becomes far less annoying.
        • I only see it now for 1 3rd party app...Adobe Bridge - really weird

          and Adobe is kind of weirding out now, very dissapointed in them.
      • Webroot spysweeper

        webroot spysweeper does the same thing, but uses less memory and is less of an annoyance.
        • No, it doesn't do the same thing.

          Anti-spyware protects against one class of attacks and depends on an up to date database.

          UAC protects against [i]anything[/i] that tries to escalate privileges, and does not rely on keeping a database up to date.
      • Because it's junk?

        Why turn it off? Because it's user access control. Secretaries are users. Kids are users. Idiots are users. UAC must be the saddest little micromanaged hell I could ever imagine.
    • What, no complaints about how expensive and bad

      Vista is?

      Hell, when Apple announces a security update, NATG does a rant about how
      expensive Apple stuff is and how buggy it must be.

      $600 for an OS that is slow, full of bugs, intrusive and, JEEZ, you can't turn off the
      UAC (horrors), then it needs a huge service pack release because of crashes but
      that will be 6 more months.....

      You MS folks are really gullible and part with your money soooooooooo easily.

  • what about XP SP3?

    I've heard that the beta for SP3 is due out soon too? Whats the deal with that?
    • XP SP3

      A fairly public beta of xp sp3 starts in 2 weeks also. More info is here:

      Mary Jo Foley
  • I turned off UAc and im fine

    When i turned of the UAC on Vista, it has been fine. I dont see a reason Microsoft has to apply and update or fix for it. Just turn it off.
    • I left my door open wide and I'm fine

      When I unlocked and opened the doors to my car and house, they have been fine. I don't see a reason Yale has to sell locks. Just leave your doors open.
      Alun Jones
      • lol. nice but...

        UAC is a bunch of BS. I have had no problems. try backing that with some true fact. i dont see how UAC is beneficial to the end user. have you ever even tried using it both ways? Why would other people be asking for a hotfix for UAC if it was useful? doesnt make much sense to me.
        • He's right

          "UAC is a bunch of BS."

          And you're a bunch of FUD.

          He's right - just because you haven't been bitten yet doesn't mean you won't be.

          "try backing that with some true fact."

          FACT: I've seen lots of computers with lots of spyware and malware and the ever-so-annoying IE toolbars installed without user permission.

          FACT: Sony and other manufacturers release CDs with automatic installation of unwanted software.

          FACT: I like knowing when software is attempting to access my system files.

          FACT: UAC creates protections beyond anything XP has.

          "have you ever even tried using it both ways?"

          Yes, and having malware installed without asking for permission sucks.

          "Why would other people be asking for a hotfix for UAC if it was useful?"

          Just because something can be improved doesn't mean it's not useful.

          "doesnt make much sense to me."

          This is only because you haven't done any research.

          Here's a good place to start:

          • I have plenty of facts...

            I have several antispyware/malware/scumware etc programs on my computer. serveral antivirus programs as well. i scan and was h my computer everyday. i know how my computer should act. it's not my fault that you and some other users dont know how to take care of your system. Thats the problem with people today. they think its their machines that dont work, but infact its people like you who rely on them to take care of you, but no infact it is you who must take care of it.
          • ...and I don't have any antivirus

            Maybe if you had UAC on, you wouldn't need "several" antispyware and antivirus programs installed (and using up memory and slowing your computer down). Myself, I have UAC on (I go weeks without seeing a single UAC prompt, btw), I have no antivirus, and the only antispyware I have is Windows Defender, because it's included with Vista and is lightweight and unobtrusive.
          • Hmmmm, I'm not sure how you would know

            If you don't run antispyware and antivirus programs.
            Kid Icarus-21097050858087920245213802267493