It's Coming! Our Checklists Help You Prepare for Vista SP1 (updated)


As we suggested in February, St. Patrick's Day arrived before Vista SP1 would become available to average Vista users - but not by much. Computerworld reports that it looks as if Vista SP1 will become available for downloading tomorrow (update: Vista SP1 is available for download, see details here ) , with new Vista SP1 retail packages taking their bow on Wednesday at store shelves near you. So, what now?

Preparations for Vista RTM Users

If you have Vista RTM (aka "the original"), spend a little time this evening between basketball bracket pairings and St. Patrick Day's parties in preparing for tomorrow's "big event":

  • 1. Make sure you have adequate free disk space on your system drive. If you are going to use Windows Update to pull down Vista SP1, you need at least 1.2GB for the 32-bit x86 version, and a bit more (1.5GB) for the 64-bit x64 version. If you're downloading the full package instead, you need 2.5-5.5GB for the x86 version, and 4.1-7.9GB for the x64 version. If you're short on disk space, move some digital music, photos or videos to an external drive until you have enough space.
  • 2. Make sure you've already installed (either manually or via Windows Update) the prerequisites required for SP1: KB937287, KB938371, and (for Vista Ultimate and Business only), KB935509. You can't install Vista SP1 unless these updates are already installed.
  • 3. Make sure you've uninstalled pre-release versions of Vista SP1. A prelease version (beta or release candidate) shows up in Programs and Features as Service Pack for Microsoft Windows (KB936330), just as the final release will. The difference is that the final release doesn't mark your desktop as "evaluation version"). Keep in mind that Windows Update will not offer you Vista SP1 for at least an hour after a prerelease version is uninstalled to assure it's really "all gone."
  • 4. Test your system hard disk for errors with Chkdsk. To run Chkdsk, right-click C: drive, select Properties, click Tools, and click Check Now. Make sure both check boxes are marked, click Start, and click Schedule Disk Check. Restart your computer, and Chkdsk will perform its most thorough repair level before Windows restarts (allow a few minutes - it's a good time to check the NCAA brackets!).
  • 5. Create your own system restore point. Although Vista SP1 setup creates a system restore point itself before starting the restore, make your own anyway. It won't hurt, and it takes just a few minutes. To make one manually, right-click Computer, select Properties, click System Protection in the Tasks pane, and click Create. Make sure your system drive and any other drives you want to protect are selected.
  • 6. Check your system for problem applications and update them.
  • 7. Back up your system. If you have Vista Ultimate, Business, or Enterprise editions, run the Complete PC Backup image backup, followed by a File/Folder backup. With other editions, run File and Folder backup. Nothing should go wrong...but it never hurts to be protected.

Now, you're ready to download and install Vista SP1.

Are you planning to upgrade your Windows XP SP2 system to Vista SP1? Before you crack open the shrinkwrap on Vista SP1 Upgrade edition, read on.

Got XP? Want Vista SP1? Here's Your Checklist!

You can't get your hands on Vista SP1 until Wednesday, giving you have an extra day to get your system ready for Vista SP1. Use it wisely.

Before you decide you absolutely, positively must perform an upgrade of XP to Vista SP1, read my cover story from the March 2007 issue of Maximum PC: Windows Vista Survival Guide . If you'd rather read it in its full magazine glory, click here for the PDF of the entire issue. I make a pitch for performing a clean install (it's possible, even from an upgrade version; see the PDF version of the July 2007 issue, pp.38-39 "Vista Activation Oddities"; for a more detailed look at the process, see Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows article .)

If you don't want to install a new hard disk and reinstall your apps (in other words, you're still on target for an upgrade of your XP installation to Vista SP1), here's your pre-install checklist:

  • 1. Download and run the Vista Upgrade Advisor . It helps you determine if your system's ready for your favorite Vista edition (Tip: if Windows Vista Basic is the recommended edition for you, it's time for a new PC! ).
  • 2. Download driver updates needed to prepare your system for Vista per the Vista Upgrade Advisor. If you can find native Vista drivers for some types of hardware (printers, network adapters, to name a couple), you can download Windows XP drivers.
  • 3. Install any uninstalled updates to Windows XP SP2: Windows Update's the easiest way to do it. If you have problems with Windows Update, give Dial-a-Fix a try - it can help.
  • 4. Run your favorite backup program to back up your system. If you don't have one, download Windows Easy Transfer for Windows XP ; you can use it to save copies of system files and configurations to an external hard disk or network folder in case you have problems with your XP to Vista update. To back up programs for transfer, use Windows Easy Transfer Companion (beta) .
  • 5. Make sure you have enough free disk space (at least 15GB) on your system drive. If not, move some digital content to an external hard disk or run System Cleanup to free up the space you need.
  • 6. Create a restore point using the System Restore tab of the System Properties sheet.
  • 7. Check your system for problem applications and update them.

Whether you're updating Vista RTM to Vista SP1, or upgrading from Windows XP SP2 to Vista SP1, be sure to see our extensive coverage of what to expect. Happy updating/upgrading!


Still on the fence about Windows Vista? Get down from there (you might get splinters!) and get to your favorite bookstore for a copy of Mark's book Maximum PC Microsoft Windows Vista Exposed . It's available at and other fine bookstores.

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