Vista Service Pack 1: what's in it for you?

Windows Vista SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing feedback from our customers across a number of areas. In addition to all the fixes delivered via other channels like Windows Update, Windows Vista SP1 will address specific reliability and performance issues that have been discussed on many self-help forums, such as copying files and shutdown time.

It will support new types of hardware and emerging standards, like EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) and ExFat (a new file format that will be used in flash memory storage and consumer devices

What about security improvements in Windows Vista SP1?

DeVaan: Windows Vista continues to be the most secure version of Windows ever. For instance, we can know from a recent vulnerability reports comparison that Windows Vista had 50 per cent fewer critical vulnerabilities than XP SP2 and far fewer critical vulnerabilities than other competing operating systems in their first respective 180 days after release.

We have addressed any known vulnerabilities in the appropriate manner and those changes will be in Windows Vista SP1 as well. At the same time, we are always looking at the proactive work we can do to improve the product before we receive reports of potential vulnerabilities.

Windows Vista SP1 will contain a significant number of code changes focused on the ongoing work to continue making Windows Vista the most secure operating system available. We are being proactive -- these code changes do not represent vulnerabilities, rather they are coding practices that we continue to hone and improve in the ongoing race against escalating and evolving security threats.

You've talked about changes to Windows Vista code itself, but what about compatibility with third party software? Will Windows Vista SP1 improve application compatibility?

DeVaan: When we built Windows Vista, the changes necessary to make it more secure did cause some application compatibility challenges. But we think it was a worthwhile trade-off, particularly as hacking activity gravitates toward organised crime that is intent on stealing credit card data or stealing enterprise trade secrets.

Bearing that in mind, it is also worth pointing out that Windows Vista was tested with thousands and thousands of applications, the majority of which are perfectly compatible. The number of applications carrying the Windows Vista logo, which assures a good experience, recently passed 2,100 and continues to grow every day.

One of our top priorities for Windows Vista SP1 is to avoid causing regressions in application compatibility, as we know that's very important to our customers using Windows Vista today. Also, Windows Vista SP1 will provide some fixes for application compatibility. But by and large we are sticking with the promise we made of first delivering superior security to end users, and we won't make any changes in Windows Vista SP1 that compromise that for the sake of better compatibility.

It sounds like a lot is changing. Is this a sizeable update for Windows Vista?

DeVaan: It's true that at first glance it will look like a lot is changing, and it's true that there are thousands of files being changed to varying degrees in Windows Vista SP1. However, the first measure of "size" most people will encounter will likely be the download of Windows Vista SP1 through Windows Update or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), which we predict will be about 50 MB.

The second measure of size will be the free disk space requirement for installing Windows Vista SP1, which is currently around 7 GB for the beta, although we will be working to bring this down for the final version as we optimise the servicing algorithms used.

Will customers see an improvement immediately after installing Windows Vista SP1? Should they wait for Windows Vista SP1 to move to Windows Vista?

DeVaan: We think Windows Vista is one of the best versions of Windows we've ever released, and, just like with past Windows releases, the servicing model is about continuously improving the quality of the code after it is released and keeping up with an evolving PC ecosystem.

While it's likely customers will experience some improvements when updating the RTM version of Windows Vista with Windows Vista SP1, many of the improvements will be available prior to the release of the service pack through the other vehicles I've mentioned, and we think that Windows Vista is an operating system that offers great benefits today for everyone from home users to large enterprises.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.