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Windows Vista SP1 is on the horizon. Should you jump in?

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This is Leo Notenboom for

A few weeks ago I wrote an article that addressed the question Should I Install Windows XP SP3?

Well, alongside XP's SP3, Microsoft is also in the process of preparing to release the first service pack for Windows Vista: SP1.

For those that have read the [XP SP3] article, much of what I'm about to say will sound hauntingly familiar.

First, as I record this, Vista SP1 has not yet been released. The average computer user should not install anything that claims to be SP1. Either it's the Beta version, which is not final, or it's bogus, and an attempt to get you to install malware on your machine. At least wait for the official release.

In fact, if you can, wait a little longer and let others try it out first.

SP1 is big. Microsoft documentation claims that what they're calling an "Express" update using Windows Update where only the components you need are downloaded, will average around 65 megabytes in size. There's also be a much larger, 450 Megabyte standalone package which can be downloaded once, and then deployed on multiple machines without requiring a long download for each machine.

In reading through the changes the Microsoft has made in SP1, one thing stands out: there are long lists of "added support for ..." this and that new technology, but nowhere does it say "added support for old things that use to work in Windows XP".

In other words, it seems that if Vista didn't work with your old printer then Service Pack 1 is not likely to resolve the issue.

Out here in the trenches that's one of the most common complaints about Vista, and it's disappointing that they've chosen not to address it.

In the long run, I expect Windows Vista SP1 to be a good thing, and an overall improvement to the operating system. The list of issues fixed is quite long. The risk, of course, is that in fixing one thing something else gets broken. And no matter how long and thorough the testing cycle, it seems like it's inevitable that something always slips through.

I'll be installing it on my Vista machine probably as soon as it's available. I'll let you know how that goes. In the mean time, wait for the official announcement, and if you like, wait a little more so folks like myself can take the plunge first.

But once it's been officially released and deployed and has a bit of a track recorder, I expect I'll be advising that all Vista users install it.

I'd love to hear what you think. Visit and enter 12148 in the go to article number box to access the show notes, the transcript and to leave me a comment. While you're there, browse the hundreds of technical questions and answers on the site.

Till next time, I'm Leo Notenboom, for

Article C3258 - January 6, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Eric Ericson
January 7, 2008 9:58 AM

I have the new evaluation copy of Vista SP1 (for the general public). I don't see all the hype against trying things. I really don't. We are told overall of any potential problems. And, then within a relatively short period of time, things get corrected fairly fast...unlike what is seen/done in other operating systems/browswers.

I don't get the boos about MS. I really don't.

I was one of the first to get VISTA (Business-free for answering a few questions along with Office 2007). I have never had any real problems with any MS OS. And, I run a lot of freebies, to boot. In fact, the freebie software seems to work best and more up to date than the traditional crap.

Personally? I am sick and tired of all the "foul" cries when there are none to blame but themselves. For example, MS let's you know what won't work or work with the new OS's. If you have outdated hardware...who's to blame? You bought an OS (at the time) that works with your hardware. Why complain about it not working with a new OS? Just keep you old one if you can't afford a $50 RAM upgrade, a free printer (after rebate/purchase) or PC/Web cam that can be replaced for less than $50 and etc.

Pettiness is what is keeping OS's in the dark ages.

Accept change or go read paper is what I say...

Later, guys and gals...



January 8, 2008 3:17 AM

>...nowhere does it say "added support for old
>things that use to work in Windows XP"

...You mean apart from the section entitled "Application Compatibility Improvements"?

January 8, 2008 8:40 AM

Eric -

I'm happy that you're happy with Vista. I really am. You may not be aware of it, but Leo was a Microsoft employee for almost 20 years. I trust his judgement and advice about all things Microsoft. So far, he has NOT led me astray.

I work for a large hospital that has about 100,000 computers in use at any given time. Our IT department is as large as some small, rural towns. The hospital has refused to "upgrade" to Vista because of numerous issues. I guess it does make a tiny bit of difference if you use your computer to crunch numbers or play games vs. using it to assist in a surgical procedure where someone's life is on the line.

I'll stick with my old XP Pro and all that pettiness until Leo and my hospital's IT department recommend an upgrade to Vista. In the meantime, if you should need some life-saving procedure (and I am NOT wishing for anything bad to happen to you!) you might want to ask your doctor or hospital which operating system they're using.

Charlotte Kimm
January 12, 2008 5:20 AM

Hi,regarding the new Vista and the problems it can or may cause for some of us..... I am an old lady of 72 and have Vista on my laptop, in English, XP on my main desktop in German, xp pro in English on the pc I use for most tutoring and win 98 on my old pc that I keep so I can use some really old but great programs for little ones that I tutor in English.
I must say that Vista and all the new ways of doing things and finding things has been a challenge for me to get used to, but perhaps those changes I must make with the above pcs, combined with having started to learn the pc with ms dos and going up through dos levels to windows has helped keep me younger in mind than I am in body. All change is stressful, but it can help keep us on our toes..I say , try to go with the new things, but work hard at accepting it might be a bit stressful. I am glad though that my vista is at least in English and that I have printers on the older machines. Hate to have to buy a newer printer again, at my age...Have a great week and keep up the great work Leo. Charlotte

M.K. Cumpston
January 12, 2008 7:30 AM

I have Vista and just installed Office 2007. Now my HP Photosmart 3210 printer is not recognized. I uninstalled the printer software and reinstalled it to no avail. Any help? Would the new Vista SP1 fix it? If so, where can I find it? I need to print our payroll time-sheets.

Leo A. Notenboom
January 13, 2008 12:23 PM

Hash: SHA1

As the article states, Vista SP1 is NOT READY YET. Do not
download it until it's been released (unless you really know
what you are doing).

Vista seems to have problems with older printers, and I'm
not hopeful that SP1 will solve your problem. Unfortunately
I don't have a good suggestion for what will.


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


John E
January 14, 2008 12:52 AM

Leo - I think you are being a little unfair on Microsoft regarding Vista support for old hardware, particularly printers. In most cases, the problem is down to the hardware manufacturer not being interested in writing new drivers for their old kit, and given the costs involved, there isn't much incentive for them to do so. If you need to keep an old printer running, best advice is to keep an old PC just to run it, connected via a network (or null modem network cable).

Warren Tripp
February 28, 2008 12:53 AM

My local computer builder installed the SP1 update to Vista Ultimate on my custom PC and it has been flawless including finally recognizing all 4 gigabytes of RAM!

Owen Oakeley
April 25, 2010 10:20 AM

I started with an HP a6200 with Vista installed, added a second hard drive and installed Fedora fc8 on that. Now up to fc12 and both work fine (Vista is a pain but I need it) but Vista SP1 runs for hours and reports "Service pack did not install, reverting changes" which runs for another hour. The full SP down load does the same. Grub controls the boot and I have to hit keys to get boot options and select "OTHER" to run Vista. Could this be the problem? Owen

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