The Wraps Come Off of Windows Vista SP1...

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Speculation about exactly what's in Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista has been rife since mid-summer , but with invitations now going out to Windows Server 2008 beta users to try SP1, this week Microsoft released a white paper detailing exactly what improvements are included in SP1.

SP1 Feature Highlights

Security Improvements:

  • Better security APIs for x64 versions of Vista
  • More secure communications between third-party security software vendors and the Windows Security Center
  • Signed Remote Desktop Protocol files (so you know who's talking to your system)
  • Enhancements to BitLocker drive encryption user authentication
  • BitLocker will also be able to encrypt any local drive

Reliability fixes improve operation with:

  • Newer graphics cards
  • External displays on laptops
  • Network configuration
  • Sleep mode
  • Systems upgraded from XP to Vista
  • Printer drivers

Microsoft used reports from the Windows Error Reporting tool to determine the list of fixes.

Performance fixes include:

  • faster recovery from hibernation and resume modes (wake up, PC sleepyheads!)
  • faster file copying and extraction (faster installs in your future)
  • longer battery life on some laptops (watch another episode of your favorite sitcom during that long plane or train ride)

Network and Internet fixes:

  • faster network file share browsing
  • Network Diagnostics now helps solve file sharing problems
  • better IE 7 performance
  • better performance for PCs on a domain when they operate off the domain (laptop users who shuttle between corporate and home networks, this one's for you!)

Support for new hardware standards:

  • Extended FAT (exFAT) file system, which features support for larger files and longer filenames in flash memory and consumer electronic devices
  • Secure Digital (SD) Advanced DMA, for faster data transfers with less CPU utilization (a boon to digital photographers using point-and-shoot cameras and other devices that use SD for storage)
  • Direct3D 10.1, which supports a new Shader Model (4.1) and introduces improved antialiasing and block-rendering techniques

SP1 also includes improvements to other management features. You can download a copy of the complete white paper in PDF or XML from the Downloads section of Microsoft.com.

A Progress Report on Vista

The white paper also details improvements in device driver availability and application compatibility since the launch of Windows Vista 9 months ago. There are drivers for over 2.2 million device types as of July, compared to 1.5 million at Vista launch, and the list of Windows Vista logo applications has increased from just 254 at Vista launch to 2076 as of July.

Good News - and Bad

The long list of improvements and fixes is the good news about SP1. The bad news? SP1 is now targeted for release in the first quarter of 2008.

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