Even before Windows Vista launched (in November 2006 to business partners, January 2007 to consumers) geeks, pundits, and industry watchers have been speculating what Microsoft would include in its first round of updates to its latest and greatest operating system. Aside from a few general comments, the Redmond software giant has remained almost entirely mute on the subject. However, now Microsoft has published a white paper detailing its plans for Vista Service Pack 1, detailing some of the improvements users can expect, and a rough idea of when the Windows world might see it.
First, the scheduling: although Microsoft hasn’t etched any dates in stone, the company says it is currently targeting Vista Service Pack 1 for the first quarter of 2008, with a public beta coming earlier—likely in late 2007—when the service pack is considered stable and enters its second wave of testing.
As for the contents of the service pack, Microsoft seems to be focusing on security, administration, and performance improvements to the operating system, rather than attempting to add flashy new features. Internet Explorer 7 should see a performance boost, along with network browsing and copying files. Waking from Hibernate mode should go faster, and notebook users might see some battery life improvement by way of reduced screen draws. Service Pack 1 will also include a previously released updates.
Administrators will appreciate the addition of BitLocker Drive Encryption and improvements to Group Policy management, and the update will roll in support for upcoming standards and hardware, such as Direct3D 10.1, Secure Sockets Tunneling Protocol (SSTP), Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI), and the Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT).
Overall, Microsoft seems to be de-emphasizing Service Packs for Vista in favor of its now-mature Windows Update technology—and, indeed, many of the improvements mentioned in the Service Pack 1 white paper have already been delivered to Vista users via Windows Update. Nonetheless, the release of Vista Service Pack 1 will provide a new, improved baseline point from which users and administrators can operate, knowing that a certain subset of improvements, enhancements,and technology support are already available, without having to install Vista and then laboriously ensure subsequently-released improvements install and are operating properly.
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