Sunday, August 10, 2008

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Revealed

Here's what you can expect in Windows Vista SP1.

Quality improvements

As with previous Windows service packs, Windows Vista SP1 will include all of the previously released updates for Windows Vista, including all security, reliability, and performance improvements. Many of these improvements were driven by customer requests and the WER, as noted above.

Microsoft says it will make the following quality improvements in Vista SP1.

Security improvements include previously-announced changes to Windows Security Center that will allow third-party security software makers to more effectively communicate with and replace Microsoft's security dashboard with their own solutions, new APIs aimed at helping security software makers work with the Kernel Patch Protection feature in 64-bit versions of Vista (also previously announced), changes to RemoteApp and the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), the addition of a new Elliptical Curve Cryptography (ECC) pseudo-random number generator (PRNG), and a change to BitLocker Drive Encryption that adds optional multifactor authentication method combining keys protected by a TPM hardware module, a Startup Key stored on a USB memory key device, and a user-generated personal identification number.

Reliability. For reliability, Vista SP1 will include better reliability and compatibility with newer graphics cards, improved reliability when using notebook computers with an external display, improved networking configuration reliability, improved reliability of systems that are upgraded from XP to Vista, better compatibility with many printers, and increased reliability and performance when entering and resuming from sleep mode.

Performance. Vista SP1 adds a number of performance improvements as well by increasing the speed of copying and extracting files, increasing the performance of Hibernate and Resume, increasing the performance of domain-joined PCs when working offline from the domain, improving the performance of Internet Explorer (IE) 7 by reducing CPU utilization and speeding JavaScript parsing, improving battery life on certain mobile systems by reducing screen redraws and thus CPU utilization, increasing the performance of the CTRL+ALT+DEL logon dialog, and improving the performance of browsing network file shares.

Administrative improvements

Vista SP1 will include a number of changes aimed at the system administrators who deploy, support, and maintain Vista-based systems. These changes include:

BitLocker Drive Encryption. In the initial version of Vista, BitLocker could only automatically encrypt the C: drive. Now, in SP1, BitLocker can also optionally encrypt other drive volumes (D:, E:, and so on), as is possible with Windows Server 2008.

Terminal Service printing. Local printing from a Windows Terminal Services session will be improved.

Network Diagnostics. Windows Vista SP1 will add a new version of the Network Diagnostics tool that will also help administrators and end users diagnose common file sharing problems. (Available from the Diagnose and Repair link in Network and Sharing.)

Disk Defragmenter. The built-in Disk Defragmenter service will be updated so that customers can configure exactly which volumes are automatically defragged.

Group Policy. Vista SP1 will include a number of Group Policy (GP) changes. Most controversial, the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) will be uninstalled so that the GPEdit management console can be used to manage local policies. Microsoft will also ship a tool before SP1 that will let admins add comments to Group Policy Objects (GPOs) and individual GP settings.

Support for new hardware and standards

Since Windows Vista shipped in early 2007, a number of emerging new hardware types and international standards have emerged. SP1 will address these changes by adding support for them to Windows Vista. They include:

Extended FAT (exFAT) file system. A future standard for flash memory storage and consumer-oriented mobile devices. Based on FAT, exFAT adds support for longer file names and other improvements.

Secure Digital (SD) Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA). This update to SD technology improves transfer performance while decreasing CPU utilization. It will require SD DMA-compliant host controllers.

EFI network booting on x64 systems. In the initial shipping version of Windows Vista, 64-bit (x64) versions of the OS could boot on EFI-compliant PCs, which replace ancient BIOS technology with a more modern solution. With SP1, EFI-based x64 Vista systems can also support network boot, a feature that was previously available only on 32-bit (x86) Vista versions on BIOS-based PCs.

DirectX 10.1. Vista SP1 will support Microsoft's latest multimedia and gaming libraries.
Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP). Vista SP1 will add support for the SSTP remote access tunneling protocol.