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Vista Service Pack 2

Upgraded the tablet to Vista Service Pack 2 Beta, let’s see how this goes. So far things are pretty good (the hard disk seems to be quieter, but that might just be psychological).

Windows Vista Service Pack 2

Vista SP2 and UltraMon

So, with Service Pack 2 beta installed on my Windows Vista x64 machine Windows Explorer would crash every time I would mouse over a program entry in the taskbar. After a few crashes I noticed that UltraMon was causing this behavior (even with the smart taskbar disabled). I was running UltraMon 3.0.2 and checking on UltraMon’s site I noticed that they had 3.0.3 beta available. So, I upgraded to that and now the crashes are gone. Hopefully this will save you some time in case if you have UltraMon installed and are trying out SP2 beta. Other than this issue everything else seems pretty good (I have only used it for a few hours now).

Windows Vista SP1 for multiple computers


Nick White has an excellent post about SP1 on the Windows Vista Blog. Check it out, it lists several reasons why SP1 might not show up in Windows Update. Going the Windows Update route will be worth it because

  • The download size from Windows Update of Windows Vista SP1 for x86 is 65 MB (compared to 450 MB from the Microsoft Download Center).
  • The download size from Windows Update of Windows Vista SP1 for x64 is 125 MB (compared to 745 MB from the Microsoft Download Center).

Microsoft has made Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) available in the Windows Download Center. SP1 will show up as an optional update in Windows Update within the next few days, if it hasn’t already. If you have multiple computers running Windows Vista and you don’t want to wait for it to show up then you can get it from here.

As you can see on that page…

DO NOT CLICK DOWNLOAD IF YOU ARE UPDATING JUST ONE COMPUTER: A smaller, more appropriate download is available on Windows Update.

So, please don’t use this if you are going to apply this to only one computer. I have three so I think my download is justified 🙂

Understanding Windows Vista

Unfortunately, there are too many complaints about Windows Vista. Personally, I think that Windows Vista is a pretty good OS. This article tries to explain Windows Vista and put it in an unbiased context. Additionally, one of my goals is to make this transition easier for the users, so, I will be explaining how to get things to work until either Microsoft or other software vendors have had a chance to officially fix them.

Windows Vista SP1 has been Release To Manufacturing (RTM)

Mike Nash at Windows Vista blog announced today that the Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) has been shipped! I have been very excited about this release, but I will have to wait another month. Even though they have already shipped SP1 to manufacturers, Microsoft will be making SP1 available on Windows Update in mid-March due to some concerns about a subset of drivers, for which they would like to have a smoother roll out. You can read the full explanation in Mike’s announcement.

Understandably my experience with the SP1 beta was not very good, but I am hoping that the final product will be much better. I can’t wait to upgrade.

Here is the SP1 Windows Update time line posted by Mike.

  • In mid-March, we will release Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Update (in English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese) and to the download center on microsoft.com. Customers who visit Windows Update can choose to install Service Pack 1. If Windows Update determines that the system has one of the drivers we know to be problematic, then Windows Update will not offer SP1. Since we know that some customers may want to update to SP1 anyhow, the download center will allow anyone who wants to install SP1 to do so.
  • In mid-April, we will begin delivering Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Vista customers who have chosen to have updates downloaded automatically. That said, any system that Windows Update determines has a driver known to not update successfully will not get SP1 automatically. As updates for these drivers become available, they will be installed automatically by Windows Update, which will unblock these systems from getting Service Pack 1. The result is that more and more systems will automatically get SP1, but only when we are confident they will have a good experience.
  • The remaining languages will RTM in April.

Now I am curious to go search the web for ways to make this available before mid-march :).

Windows Vista Service Pack Release Candidate 1 is Available

So, it seems that release candidate one (RC1) for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) is publically available. Looking through the notable changes document, following are some improvements that I am looking forward to (copied directly from the notable changes document).

  • Improves performance over Windows Vista’s current performance across the following scenarios:
    • 25% faster when copying files locally on the same disk on the same machine
    • 45% faster when copying files from a remote non-Windows Vista system to a SP1 system
    • 50% faster when copying files from a remote SP1 system to a local SP1 system
  • Improves the copy progress estimation when copying files within Windows Explorer to about two seconds.
  • SP1 reduces the number of UAC (User Account Control) prompts from 4 to 1 when creating or renaming a folder at a protected location.
  • Significantly improves the speed of moving a directory with many files underneath.
  • The Remote Desktop client in Windows Vista SP1 provides user interface improvements for user and server authentication. The RDP client streamlines the multiple steps end users must follow to providing their credentials to Windows Server 2003 (or earlier) Terminal Servers, and simplifies the management of previously saved credentials.
  • Improves network connection scenarios by updating the logic that auto selects which network interface to use (e.g., should a laptop use wireless or wired networking when both are available).
  • Improves overall media performance by reducing many glitches.

If you are curious about the update then I would suggest looking through the notable changes document. One other very interesting point in there was…

  • While not reflected in the initial release candidate this week, we will also be making changes effective with SP1 in how we differentiate the experience customers have using non-genuine versions of our software. This is based on feedback we heard from volume license customers in particular as part of our Windows Genuine Advantage program.

I personally have a completely genuine Vista Business but I am interested in hearing what “differentiate the experience” means 🙂

Considering my experience with SP1 Beta, I am going to wait for the final release before giving it another try; especially since one of the digg users, aliguana, commented that “Be warned, you have to uninstall this before you install the final SP1. So hold off another week or two on your main machines.”

Stay away from Vista Service Pack 1 *Beta*

If you are looking into trying out Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta, I would suggest not to do it. I spent a lot of time yesterday rebuilding my main desktop because Vista with SP1 won’t activate!

The main issue that I had was with licensing. The first time I logged in, it looked like everything worked fine, but after a few restarts things became bad. After the second or third login, Vista won’t let me login without activating, even though both the machines were activated prior to the SP1 install. When you go to activate it, it would fail activation. With the phone activation, it wouldn’t show me any digits in the groups so the phone support people could not help me.

Microsoft’s technical support couldn’t help me either since this was a Beta service pack. After about two calls I was told to call their MSDN support folks, who are not available over the weekends. I ended up rebuilding the system since I knew this would be quicker than going the MSDN route.

It seems to me that their SP1 install badly screws up their licensing because before rebuilding I tried several of the solutions posted online, none of which worked. I was willing to help with the SP1 Beta testing but knowing that it leaves the system unusable, kind of kills the purpose of having an operating system 🙂 So, unless you are lucky and are thinking that everything will work out for you, I would suggest waiting for Beta 2, if there is going to be one, or the final release. I am not angry or anything because I knew what I was getting into by trying out a Beta product.

Thank you, come again


About two months ago a friend insisted that I should seriously think about switching to a Mac. OS X is especially of interest to me because I have been into Linux for a few years now, mostly using it as a learning platform, and, given the Unix core, OS X becomes a very nice alternative. There are several things that have kept me from moving to Linux, including (please read the complete post before adding comments) the hit-or-miss upgrades, missing or little support of some hardware, not so great support for Windows based applications (like I said, read the whole post first :)), and the fact that my main jobs have revolved around Windows development. Mac, on the other hand, overcomes many of these issues (VMWare Fusion looks awesome).

With my recent involvement in web development, starting out with Ruby on Rails and then settling on django, I have realized that I now have many more choices of operating systems than I did before. This is especially true since my editor of choice is vim, which is supported on most of the platforms, and I generally do most of my development on a server running ArchLinux. So, here are my thoughts after two months of honest exploration, even going to the extreme of asking a friend running Hackintosh to lend me his computer (in exchange for the tablet :)).