Scheduled to be released in the beginning of 2008, Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) delivers improvements and enhancements to existing Vista features that significantly impact customers, but it does not deliver substantial new operating system features.
Microsoft has published a comprehensive document outlining exactly what difference SP1 makes to Vista. See a download link at the bottom of this article.
Generally speaking, the updates in Vista SP1 can be divided into three categories:
- Quality improvements
- Improvements to the administration experience
- Support for emerging hardware and standards
1. Vista SP1 Quality Improvements
Windows Vista SP1 includes all previously released updates for Vista. It also includes security, reliability, and performance improvements. These improvements target some of the issues Microsoft has identified as the most common causes of operating system crashes and hangs, giving customers a more reliable experience. These updates also improve performance in key scenarios—for example, when copying files or shutting down the computer (see my “Vista Performance and Reliability Improvements Pack” article) (insert link).
The following sections describe many of the security, reliability, and performance improvements that will be in Windows Vista SP1.
Security improvements that will be in Windows Vista SP1 include:
- Provides security software vendors a more secure way to communicate with Windows Security Center.
- Includes application programming interfaces (APIs) by which third-party security and malicious software detection applications can work with kernel patch protection on x64 versions of Windows Vista.
- Improves the security of running RemoteApp programs and desktops by allowing Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) files to be signed.
- Strengthens the cryptography platform with a redesigned random number generator, which leverages the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), when present, for entropy and complies with the latest standards.
- Enhances BitLocker Drive Encryption (BDE) to offer an additional multifactor authentication method that combines a key protected by the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) with a Startup key stored on a USB storage device and a user-generated personal identification number (PIN).
Windows Vista SP1 will include improvements that target some of the most common causes of crashes and hangs, giving users a more consistent experience.
The following list describes some of the reliability improvements that Windows Vista SP1 will include:
- Improved reliability and compatibility of Windows Vista when used with newer graphics cards in several specific scenarios and configurations.
- Improved reliability when working with external displays on a laptop.
- Improved Windows Vista reliability in networking configuration scenarios.
- Improved reliability of systems that were upgraded from Windows XP to Windows Vista.
- Increased compatibility with many printer drivers.
- Increased reliability and performance of Windows Vista when entering sleep and resuming from sleep.
The following list describes some of the performance improvements that Windows Vista SP1 will include:
- Improves the speed of copying and extracting files.
- Improves the time to become active from Hibernate and Resume modes.
- Improves the performance of domain-joined PCs when operating off the domain; in the current release version of Windows Vista, users would experience long delays when opening the File dialog box.
- Improves battery life by reducing CPU utilization by not redrawing the screen as frequently, on certain computers.
- Improves the logon experience by removing the occasional 10-second delay between pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL and the password prompt displaying.
- Addresses an issue in the current version of Windows Vista that makes browsing network file shares consume significant bandwidth and not perform as fast as expected.
2. Administration Experience
Many of the changes in Windows Vista SP1 will improve the deployment, management, and support experience for Windows Vista customers.
The following list describes some of these enhancements:
- BitLocker Drive Encryption encrypts extra local volumes. For example, instead of encrypting only drive C, customers can also encrypt drive D, E, and so on.
- Addresses problems with printing to local printers from a Windows Terminal Services session.
- The Network Diagnostics tool will help customers solve the most common file sharing problems, in addition to the basic problems that it already diagnoses.
- Administrators can control the volumes on which to run Disk Defragmenter.
In addition to these changes, Windows Vista SP1 will change the tools that customers use to manage Group Policy. Administrators requested features in Group Policy that simplify policy management. To do this, the service pack will uninstall the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) and GPEdit.msc will edit local Group Policy by default. In the SP1 timeframe, administrators can download an out-of-band release that will give them the ability to add comments to Group Policy Objects (GPOs) or individual settings and search for specific settings.
Note: Users will find that after installing Windows Vista SP1, they no longer have access to GPMC, and that the new, enhanced version of GPMC has not yet been released. In this case, administrators can continue to edit Group Policy by opening a remote desktop session directly to the server or to a PC running the release to manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows Vista.
Windows Server 2008 Note: In order to get GPMC back on Vista SP1, new Remote Server Administration Tools (or RSAT) packages will be available to download. RSAT is similar to the Windows 2000/2003 Adminpak.msi, and will be used to manage Windows networks, Active Directory, Group Policy, network services such as DNS and DHCP and other server roles from an MMC console, remotely.
3. Emerging Hardware and Standards
The technology industry is fast-paced and constantly changing. Throughout the life cycle of any version of the Windows operating system, the industry creates new hardware innovations and defines new standards. Windows Vista SP1 will include support for some of these new hardware innovations and standards, because Microsoft expects them to become increasingly important in the near future.
The following list describes some of the enhancements of Windows Vista SP1 that will support these emerging innovations and standards:
- Windows Vista SP1 adds support for exFAT file system for flash memory storage and consumer devices
- To improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization, SP1 includes support for Secure Digital (SD) Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA).
- Windows Vista SP1 will add support for network boot by using x64 EFI.
- SP1 adds support for Direct3D 10.1, adding application programming interfaces (APIs) and features that enable 3-D applications.
- Windows Vista SP1 will include support for SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol), which is a remote access tunneling protocol that will be part of the Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) platform. This protocol helps provide full-network virtual private network (VPN) remote access connections without challenges that other protocols face when traversing NATs, Web proxies, and firewalls.
One great link is the Windows Vista SP1 Guides for IT Professionals