Love it, loath it or simply find yourself ambivalent to it, the
sad truth is that the vast majority of you reading this are either using Windows Vista right now, or waiting for this very update to upgrade from XP. As the title has already given away, Service Pack 1 is now available to grab from either Windows Update or the Microsoft Update site today, as suggested by earlier leaks.
The full list of hotfixes and security updates is ridiculously long and even the smaller breakdown of notable changes is still not what you might call easy reading. For the impatient then, here's a quick summation of the most important changes and fixes - at least in this writer and Vista user's opinion:
* 64-bit systems now support UEFI.
* DirectX 10.1 support (currently only on AMD Radeon cards).
* Improved reliability going to and waking from Sleep mode.
* Improved performance browsing network drives.
* Improved performance transferring files: 25 per cent faster locally, 45 per cent faster Vista SP1 to non-Vista remotely and 50 per cent faster Vista SP1 to Vista SP1 remotely.
* Copy time prediction faster and more accurate.
* Disk Defragmenter can now be run only on specified drives.
* 32-bit systems will now show 4GB RAM in system properties when installed (despite a proportion not being accessible by programs).
Further to this list there are also a few security fixes, two of which close holes that allowed unofficial and non-activated copies of Vista to be used illicitly. We don't condone or encourage piracy here but as there will doubtless be someone reading this using pirated Vista the fixes are as such: An exploit allowing users to convince Vista it was a legit OEM copy by tweaking the BIOS, and the well known Grace Timer exploit that set the usual 30-day ‘trial' use period to a much longer time. So if you're running Vista using either of these and install the update, you'll find yourself locked out of your PC.
For everyone else, I cannot stress enough how much you need to grab this update. Subjectively it makes Vista a much more pleasant experience and the speed enhancements are definitely noticeable. If you've been waiting until now to finally buy Vista then your excuse is no longer valid.
Vista SP1 32-bit (435MB).
Vista SP1 64-bit (727MB).