Was it Worth the Wait?By Frank Ohlhorst | Posted 2008-02-19 Email Print
Can Vista SP1 rekindle the upgrade flame? eWEEK’s Channel Labs takes a look at what SP1 means for the channel and those that will profit or lose from the upgrade process.
The result seemed rather anti-climatic after all of the waiting; we did not notice anything different on our system, and nothing screamed out that we were now running SP1. At the very least, we were hoping for noticeable improvements in speed or performance, but for the day-to-day tasks of startup, shutdown and launching applications, there was no discernable difference.
But, when we started to play with the "now working" sleep mode on our Toshiba Portege, we were pleasantly surprised. Not only did sleep mode now work, it worked rather quickly--we were able to put the system to sleep and then wake it up in a flash.
Microsoft also claimed that compression and decompression operation performance was improved; we copied some files in and out of compressed folders and noticed a definite improvement. Before our upgrade, a selection of files totaling about 200MB took close to three minutes; after applying SP1, that time dropped to about two minutes.
So, are those enhancements worth going out of your way to manually install SP1? After all, SP1 will be pushed out via Windows Update automatically, so the short answer is no, but with a but. That but comes in the form of application compatibility.
Vista SP1 offers enhanced compatibility with legacy applications. For example, we have worked with some applications, such as Corel WordPerfect Office 8 and the initial release of WordPerect Office X3, that behaved strangely under Vista, and had to be used in Windows 98 or XP compatibility mode. Those applications seem to work under Vista SP1 natively.
The other improvement comes in the form of more drivers, a boon to the upgrader! We installed Vista SP1 to a few other systems that we had struggled with in the past due to drivers--a SuperMicro quad-core workstation and an AveraTec 3200 series notebook computer. Both of those systems benefited from the increased driver support offered by SP1, drivers for the integrated sound cards and other features included in the service pack--making life a little easier for upgraders.
One area that we were disappointed with was the overall end-user experience. Microsoft did not take away many of the annoyances that users have complained about since day one, such as excessive prompts for permissions, overbearing security prompts and so on.
So our short take on Vista SP1 is that it does solve some problems and it does make Vista a little easier to install, but overall, it won't be the panacea that Microsoft needs to get users to move off of XP and it won't fuel a mass demand for Vista users to add SP1, especially since Microsoft will be pushing it out automatically.