For a few months now any mention of Vista would spark some conversation about its failings, with an addendum asking "where the hell is SP1?" This week then represented a small step forward, with Microsoft finally making the Release Candidate 1 version of Service Pack 1 available to the public to download.
This includes a vast number of updates - too many to list here. However, what can be divulged in this space and at this time is that this is primarily a performance update. New features do exist but for the most part it's all about stability and performance, with lots of new bits and pieces that should hopefully make Vista a good deal more efficient. And, since performance is the name of the game here, it only seemed right to install SP1 RC1 and see how things went.
Though installation of SP1 RC1 is made to sound rather complicated, in fact it's a relatively simple if slightly time consuming process. First, you must download a self-extracting zip file from Microsoft's website, running the script file contained within. Next, you must launch Windows Update and search for any new updates labelled "Important" - the number of which will vary according to how up-to-date your system already is.
Next, having installed all the relevant updates and rebooted your machine, you must then search again for another new update that acts as the installer code for the Service Pack. Once downloaded it is now possible to search again for the SP1 RC1 Update, though having gone through this process twice already I've found it does normally take at least 15 minutes before the download appears.
Having completed the installation process you'll notice a couple of changes to the desktop. First, the words "Evaluation copy. Build 6001" are added to bottom right of the desktop to show that you're running SP1 RC1, while a shortcut named "How to Share Feedback" is also added. Hopefully, you'll also notice an improvement in performance and to get an initial impression I grabbed a new notebook from our labs and ran some quick and dirty tests.