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Microsoft's completion of Vista SP1 fails to excite users

Microsoft celebrated the release to manufacturing of Windows Vista SP1 Monday, but IT administrators say the service pack doesn't make them want to deploy the OS.

Since the Windows Vista release more than a year ago, many IT administrators have said they would wait for the first Vista service pack before considering an enterprise-wide deployment. Microsoft announced Monday that Vista SP1 has been released to manufacturing and would be publicly available starting in March, but a survey of Windows administrators shows little enthusiasm for the release.

There are still major problems with installing it and then restarting the system after you get it installed.
Jeffrey Jarzabek,
IT directorMatocha Associates

Jeffrey Jarzabek, IT director for Matocha Associates, an Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., firm specializing in architecture, engineering, general contracting and construction management, said the release of Vista SP1 wouldn't speed his firm's adoption plans.

Jarzabek dipped his toe in the Vista SP1 water and didn't like how it felt. Others say Vista compatibility issues continue to be a problem. A small majority are actually in the process of testing Vista in their environment and are moving forward without the need for a service pack.

Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows Product Management at Microsoft, announced in the Windows Vista Team blog Monday that Windows Vista SP1 had been released to manufacturing, which means it'll start being available to customers in March, starting with Microsoft Volume Licensing customers.

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"Service Pack 1 is a very important milestone because it addresses many of the key issues that our customers have identified with Windows Vista over the last year both, directly and through programs like the Customer Experience Improvement Program," he writes. "With Service Pack 1, we have made great progress in performance, reliability and compatibility."

From what Jarzabek has seen, the service pack falls far short of what's needed for wider deployments.

"I've been beta testing Vista SP1 for some time now and I can honestly say that we will not be moving to it for some time," Jarzabek said. "There are still major problems with installing it and then restarting the system after you get it installed. A lot of what came out Monday was hype. It still isn't 100%."

Specifically, he takes issue with what he found to be driver and reboot problems that led do system crashes and blue screens. He has found that other beta testers are running into similar trouble.

"This has been a disaster since day one," Jarzabek said. "I tried installing it on some Lenovo ThinkPads and it failed. I ran all the updates and SP1 executable and it failed right away."

Vista SP1 is also supposed to fix a problem where file copying is excessively slow, he said, but the testers he has talked to say the Vista service pack hasn't fixed it. In the final analysis, he said, Vista is an unstable platform. He remembers the initial releases of Windows 2000 and XP as being a lot more stable, and stability tends to be more important to IT administrators than some of the security upgrades Microsoft has touted in Vista.

The release of Vista SP1 to manufacturing isn't changing the plans of Ken Pfeil. Pfeil, head of information security for the Americas Region at WestLB AG in New York, said he's not looking at Vista anytime soon because it's much more demanding on the computer hardware than Windows XP. "More functionality and features with Vista means the potential for a lot more to go wrong," he said.

Some have had better luck, including Susan Bradley, a Microsoft MVP and IT administrator at Tamiyasu, Smith, Horn and Braun Accountancy Corp. in Fresno, Calif. She said she has deployed three different Vista builds at home and had no trouble.

But she has done more limited testing in her office because the release of Vista SP1 appeared to be so close. Now that it'll take another six weeks for the public to get its hands on it, she is taking more of a wait-and-see approach.

"What's interesting is that it appears there are driver issues that will impact Vista SP1 and they will be doing a staged release," she said in an email. "There are many TechNet Plus subscribers who want to start testing SP1 and it's not even available. They've released it to manufacturing but right now it's only been officially sent to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers)."

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