New Vista fix packs provide updates promised for SP1

Microsoft has rolled out to select testers two new Windows Vista fix packs that deliver many of the same updates expected to be provided by Vista Service Pack (SP) 1. Here's what Microsoft told testers earlier this month to expect in Vista SP1. Compare that to what's in the new Vista fix packs. Very, very similar.

Microsoft has rolled out to select testers two new Windows Vista fix packs that deliver many of the same updates expected to be provided by Vista Service Pack (SP) 1.

(Note: The original posting listing the fixes has been pulled by AeroXP, with no explanation given. So if you need the list of Vista hotfixes provided, go here. )

The fix packs (detailed in Knowledge Base articles 938194 and 938979) were made available to Windows Server 2008 testers on July 29 earlier this month. The packs provide a number of performance and reliability improvements to Vista, testers said. Among the new Vista fixes are patches for speeding up Vista's hibernate/sleep/resume performance; improving file copy/transfer capabilities; and enhancing Vista memory management, all of which are set to be part of Vista SP1, testers said earlier this month.

I'm wondering whether these two fix packs are just another name for what Microsoft has been calling the Vista SP1 private beta/preview. In spite of Microsoft's best efforts to quash talk of its plans for Windows Vista SP 1 -- while simultaneously confirming its 2010 target ship date for Windows 7 -- the Windows team did tell certain testers to expect a private beta of SP1 the week of July 16th or possibly a week later (the week of July 23, which was last week).

"SP1 Beta is projected for release to influencers ... either the week of the 16th or the following week, depending on how things proceed. The public Beta will follow shortly thereafter," according to a note Microsoft provided to testers it was considering adding to the Vista SP1 beta program.

Some other factoids from the note that went to certain testers earlier this month -- a copy of which I recently had a chance to see:

Q: What is in Windows Vista SP1?

A: "Windows Vista SP1 is an update to Windows Vista that, along with improvements delivered to users via Windows Update, addresses feedback from our customers. In addition to previously released updates, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards."

Q: What is not in Windows Vista SP1?

A: "SP1 is not intended to be a vehicle for releasing new features; however some existing components do gain enhanced functionality in SP1. "

Q: How big is SP1?

A: "Windows Vista SP1 is approximately 45 MB when delivered over Windows Update and is designed to not significantly change the UI or regress application compatibility."

Q: What are some examples of "improved security and quality?"

A: "SP1 delivers improvements that target what we’ve found to be the most common causes of crashes and hangs, giving users a more reliable experience. SP1 also improves upon performance in key scenarios, such as copying files and shutdown time.

"Beyond improvements to the basics,SP1 addresses other areas where we have received feedback. For example, SP1 improves the success of peer-to-peer connections, such as Windows MeetingSpace or Remote Assistance, when both PCs are behind symmetric firewalls. It also gives vendors of security software a more secure way to communicate with Windows Security Center."

Q: What are some examples of “support for emerging technologies and standards?"

A: "With SP1, Windows Vista can boot via EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) on an x64 machine. SP1 supports ExFAT, a new file format that will be used in flash memory storage and consumer devices Support for SD Advanced DMA Support to improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization is part of SP1." Q: What are some examples of “improving the management experience?”

A: "SP1 improves the administration experience. For example: With Windows Vista SP1, BitLocker Drive Encryption has been enhanced to not only fully encrypt the entire Windows Vista volume but also any or all additional locally created data volumes. (Customers can now not only fully encrypt C: but also D: and E. Network Diagnostics in Windows Vista SP1 will help users with the most common file sharing problems, in addition to basic problems already supported."

If Microsoft stuck to its timetable, certain testers should have received latest SP1 beta bits. Perhaps the two new Vista fix packs are simply the private SP1 beta in sheep's clothing? All I do know is, based on the note above, a public beta of Vista SP1 should be coming soon. And the final? I still hear November 2007, not 2009. (Microsoft still won't confirm or deny either the November or the 2009 dates.)

Anyone tried out the new fix packs yet? What's your verdict?

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