Vista SP1: coming soon...ish (and burning meme)

There we have it: Thursday's IT Blogwatch: in which Microsoft finally comes clean about Windows Vista Service Pack 1. Not to mention macro-LOL'ing at the man arrested for burning the Burning Man man too early...

Gregg Keizer frequently answers frequently-asked questions
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After lots of hemming and hawing, obfuscation and obdurate executive attitudes, Microsoft Corp. came clean today, sort of, about Vista's first service pack. The company confirmed a three-month launch window and said it would shortly move Service Pack 1 into a broader beta test. There are unanswered questions -- when aren't there? -- but we know more today than we did yesterday about SP1, the first major update to Vista, and a package that both Microsoft and its corporate customers have put much faith in -- so much so that there's a lot riding on the success of the upgrade.
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Microsoft is saying only "a few weeks" and "September," which are, after all, one and the same, for the beta ... it will seed the September build to between just 10,000 and 15,000 partners and customers. Don't act so surprised.
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[But] SPs are now very important to the Windows food chain ... The hoary advice to wait for the service pack may be apocryphal, but ... it has become reality ... expectations of what a service pack is have grown all out of proportion to what Microsoft will deliver. XP SP2 wasn't just a service pack.
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Microsoft ... has been avoiding the topic of XP SP3 even more judiciously than Vista SP1, confirmed that it will dual [beta] release the last rollup of the I'm-not-dead-yet XP "in a few weeks" or "in September." And it hasn't changed the long-stated, long-in-the-tooth schedule of sometime during the first six months of 2008 for a final release. [more]

Ken Fisher has more:

After months of speculation, rumor, and silence from Microsoft, the company is finally talking publicly ... Microsoft has also published a White Paper on Vista SP1 that details many of its changes. I highly recommend reading through it ... If you pay close attention, however, you'll notice that the bulk of the planned updates were already addressed in the "performance" and "compatibility" packs that were released a few weeks ago ... [and] have now been pushed out via Windows Update to Vista users.
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The service packs of 2007 are quite different than those of 2000, now that Windows Update is mature and well-integrated into Vista. That doesn't change the fact that Microsoft still issues Service Packs, however. And let's face it, there aren't many Vista users out there disinterested in when they can get their hands on SP1.. [more]

John Murrell grins at the spin:

Service packs aren’t what they used to be. Once they delivered in a single shot a raft of fixes and improvements that users had been waiting months for. Now, with many of the fixes delivered regularly though Windows Update, the service pack has more modest goals. That’s the message Microsoft is sending. [more]

Here's Paul "Windows Weakly" Thurrott: [You're fired -Ed.]

Improvements to Vista are driven by customer feedback and Vista's built-in (and opt-in) Windows Error Reporting (WER) tool and the related Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) and Online Crash Analysis (OCA) services. Thanks to these tools, Microsoft and its hardware and software partners can drive the most-needed improvements directly back into Vista much more quickly than was possible in the past. Thus, as new drivers, security fixes, application compatibility fixes, and other software updates are delivered electronically to customers, Vista gets better and better over time. Previously, customers would have to wait for monolithic service packs, released irregularly and often over long periods of time, to get these improvements
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Despite briefing me last year that Windows Vista SP1 would be released alongside Windows Server 2008 and would include a major kernel update, Microsoft subsequently launched a publicity campaign aimed at fooling customers into believing that the company hadn't yet even decided whether it would ever release SP1. Indeed, I sat and watched, twice, as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer publicly appeared confused about the mere mention of SP1, and he denied, both times, that the company was working on that release ... After all the silence, evasiveness, and outright lies, Microsoft this week announced pretty much what I've been saying all along. [more]

Microsoft's Kai Axford talks about deployment (baby):

Windows Vista SP1 will support a number of deployment scenarios and methods ...
  • Express. Requires an Internet connection but minimizes the size of the download by sending only the changes needed for a specific computer (approximately 50 MB for x86-based operating systems).
  • Stand-alone. Recommended for computers with limited Internet connectivity and for applying the service pack to multiple computers. The download size is larger than the express package, but customers can apply a single package to any Windows Vista version and language combination (within a platform). Distribution tools like System Center Configuration Manager 2007 use stand-alone packages to deploy Windows Vista SP1.
  • Slipstream. The slipstream version of Windows Vista SP1 is media that already contains the service pack, which companies can use to deploy the operating system to new computers or to upgrade existing computers. Availability will be limited. Microsoft will update Windows Vista retail media with Windows Vista SP1 slipstream media in the future. Slipstream media will also be available to Volume Licensing customers. [more]

Chris Pirillo notes his favorite features:

  • With SP1, Windows Vista can boot via EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) on an x64 machine
  • SP1 supports ExFAT, a new file format that will be used in flash memory storage and consumer devices
  • Support for SD Advanced DMA Support to improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization ...
  • A series of new API’s and software features to enable 3D application and game developers to make more complete and efficient use of the upcoming generation of graphics Direct3D 10.1 hardware ...
  • Includes SSTP (Secure Sockets Tunnel Protocol), a remote access VPN tunneling protocol that will be part of Microsoft’s RRAS (Routing and Remote Access Service) platform ...
  • BitLocker Drive Encryption has been enhanced to not only fully encrypt the entire Windows Vista volume but also any or all additional locally created data volumes ...
  • Network Diagnostics ... will help users with the most common file sharing problems, in addition to basic problems already supported ...
  • An update to Disk Defragmenter so administrators can control which volumes the disk defragmenter runs on. [more]

Buffer overflow:

Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch

And finally... Oh hai, Burning Man Arsonist

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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