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Vista SP1 experiences: The good and the bad

Bill BrennerYesterday I wrote a story about the reaction from Windows administrators to Microsoft’s release of Vista SP1, and the response was mostly one of caution and frustration.

The challenges people are running into are the same ‘ol items: incompatibility with third-party programs, device driver glitches, a sleep mode problem and endless reboots.

One of the folks I touched base with is Michael Pietroforte, a systems administrator who heads up the IT department at the University Library of the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Germany. He tested Vista SP1 extensively and created a useful list of challenges and possible solutions in his 4Sysops blog. Security Blog Log

Pietroforte’s entry inspired me to dig further for blogs with something useful to share about the service pack. Here’s a bit of what I found:

Longtime computer product reviewer Scot Finnie wrote that Vista SP1 has been running on a couple of his test machines for the past month and a half. He offered IT pros this verdict:

“You don’t need this thing right away. If you’ve kept up with Vista security patches, then you’re fine. There’s no need to rush into it.”

For those who dare to tackle the service pack now, he said the biggest pain one will likely encounter is the driver trouble during or after installation.

He writes that Vista SP1 has only one true reason for being — to help Microsoft sell Vista to enterprise customers, among whom the conventional wisdom has been to wait for the first service pack. “What’s actually new and not available separately is, to my perception, more marketing hype than reality,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with SP1, but there’s absolutely nothing compelling about it either.”

Over at, Triston McIntyre wrote up this warning:

“The list of users who are experiencing more than a little difficulty with the new Service Pack 1 grows longer every day; it seems more and more users who boot multiple operating systems are experiencing grief as well,” he writes. “Before installing Vista Service Pack 1, be sure to check out the boot systems you’re currently using if you use Windows Vista Enterprise or Vista Ultimate, otherwise your PC might end up the victim of a faulty SP1 install.”

John Rundag, technology coordinator for the Logan Elm School District in Ohio, wrote in his blog about the slow Vista SP1 download process he endured. He warned that the process will take longer than anyone would want.

Once downloading Vista SP1, he says he clicked on the install and left for the day. When he returned to the office the next day, his computer looked the same as he had left it, with the exception of the install screen for SP1.

“One of the issues I had been experiencing was slow file copying to and from network drives,” he wrote. “A lot of times I just copied large files to a flash drive and then moved it to the server on my MacBook. Moving large directories was a nightmare. The first thing I did after I verified I was running SP1 was to move some files to the server.”

Fortunately, he reported, the system has been stable since installation and he hasn’t experienced any major issues.

Nick White, a product manager in Microsoft’s Vista department, offered a laundry list of the feedback Microsoft has received in the Windows Vista Team blog and promised to keep the lines of communication open.

Expect more frustration to flow from the blogosphere as IT pros try to get their arms around Vista SP1. But whatever the problems may be, Microsoft does deserve credit for trying to keep customers informed.

Eventually we’ll all get a grip on Vista. But it’s going to take a long time.

About Security Blog Log: Senior News Writer Bill Brenner peruses security blogs each day to see what’s got the information security community buzzing. In this column he lists the weekly highlights. If you’d like to comment on the column or bring new security blogs to his attention, contact him at

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