Symantec, Windows users beset by Vista SP1 flaws

The security vendor says updates for drivers invalidated by the service pack are not yet available, while some Vista customers are suffering severe problems after downloading SP1
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

Security vendor Symantec has said that updated drivers to replace those adversely affected by Windows Vista Service Pack 1 are not yet available.

The company said users will have to wait for the updated drivers, which will be available "in the coming weeks". The drivers in question are for Endpoint Protection and Network Access Control, two of Symantec's flagship enterprise security products.

Microsoft released Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) to Windows Update on Tuesday. However, in the Vista team blog, Vista product manager Nick White wrote that some vendors' drivers "may be problematic after an update from Windows Vista to Windows Vista SP1". Symantec Endpoint Protection and Network Access Control clients were among the list of drivers affected by SP1.

On Thursday, Symantec said that, while it was aware of the problems SP1 had caused for its drivers and customers, updated drivers for Endpoint Protection were not yet available. Symantec made no explicit mention of Network Access Control drivers in an email response to ZDNet.co.uk.

"Symantec [is] aware of this issue and has updated the affected driver to resolve the issue," Symantec said in its email statement. "The currently available version of Symantec Endpoint Protection (Maintenance Release 1) is not certified for use with Vista SP1 and could potentially be impacted by this issue. The next upcoming maintenance release of Symantec Endpoint Protection, which is currently with beta customers and due to be available for general release in the coming weeks, will be fully certified for Vista SP1 and will include an updated driver which is not impacted by this issue."

As well as vendors, some Microsoft customers were also affected by downloading SP1. In comments on Nick White's blog post, a user called "iggy23" said downloading Vista SP1 had caused a "blue screen", which can be displayed by Windows in the event of a critical system error.

"I downloaded [SP1] via Windows Update and got a blue screen on the third part of the update," wrote iggy23. "[It] took five hours to 'revert to previous'. So I downloaded the package version and tried that. Same blue screen. Same hours."

Another user experienced problems with their graphics drivers after downloading Vista SP1.

"Well, I installed Vista SP1 after seeing it on Windows Update last night," wrote the user. "In retrospect, not my finest decision. What a disaster! It exiled all of my Nvidia drivers to the Bermuda Triangle... they're simply all gone. Okay, no big deal, go to the Nvidia site, download the latest drivers, install and nada. Zip, zilch, nothing changes. The install fails... every time, without fail."

One irate Windows user claiming to be Howard Terry, a researcher at Berkeley and Stanford universities, said that university professors and students were considering a class action lawsuit if Microsoft did not resolve this problem.

"This is a very serious matter — tell someone in charge that Stanford and... Berkeley professors and students will begin a class action lawsuit very soon if this SP1 update problem is not fixed for Vista [business] users asap," wrote "drqc terry". "What have you people done to this new OS...?"

The majority of comments responding to White's blog post were positive, however.

Microsoft had not explained why it had released SP1 in the knowledge that it could break third-party drivers at the time of writing. However, a spokesperson for the company said that Microsoft would ultimately automatically push out updated drivers ahead of SP1 downloads.

"We've spent the last couple of months or so investigating the driver issues we shared back in February," said Microsoft in an email. "Since then, we [have] identified a small set of device drivers that, if installed on a Windows Vista PC that is subsequently updated to SP1, may be problematic. We were pleased to find that many of the reports that caused our original concern were on pre-release builds of the service pack and were addressed by improvements made between the release candidate and final builds. Although many driver issues were addressed, there are a small number of issues around specific device drivers remaining."

"We want our customers to have the best possible experience with Windows Vista SP1, so we have configured Windows Update to initially delay offering the service pack to PCs with these identified drivers until the issues are resolved," said Microsoft.

"In order to deliver SP1 to these PCs, we worked with our partners to produce driver updates for the drivers that were reported to be problematic when updating to SP1. Updated drivers for the many of the issues found are available on Windows Update as 'optional' updates today. Ultimately, we will be using Windows Update to automatically deliver these updated drivers to PCs in advance of offering them SP1," added the software giant.

"We continue to work with partners to produce resolutions for several other issues," Microsoft said.

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