Vista Service Pack 1: Damned If You Do...

| About: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)

Well, they’re at it again! Windows Vista wasn’t even in shrink-wrap yet when the pundits started saying “wait for the first service pack” and here we are, eight months later and now those same pundits are complaining about the imminent release of the first public beta of Vista’s first Service Pack. (See Vista SP1: Indictment of Vista 1.0?) Make up your minds, folks!

Of course, we all would like to buy something brand new and not run into any problems but the more complex the product, the more likely there are to be niggling little things that need to be fixed. And, at least Microsoft is conscientious about fixing things.

People who hate Microsoft like to remind us that Apple products don’t seem to have such problems. Well let’s see, there is exactly one OEM selling hardware that will run Mac OSX and that is … ah yes, Apple Computer — who has complete control over every hardware and software component that ships with one of its computers.

Microsoft, on the other hand, must make its operating system work with literally thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of combinations of components (and their attendant device-drivers) from dozens of OEMs and hundreds of suppliers, few of whom care very much if Microsoft gets blamed because they use inferior components and produce half-baked device-drivers.

Linux vendors face the same challenge as that encountered by Microsoft — but they make no effort whatsoever to insure that their operating system will work with whatever third-party components you buy. That’s up to you! (And whether Dell’s ‘grand experiment’ with Linux pays off remains to be seen.) But that’s okay — after all, Linux vendors are not trying to satisfy those in the market for a consumer desktop, they are selling to the hard core among us.

The biggest complaint seems to be the size of the Vista SP1 beta — varying from 50MB for the downloaded version to 1GB for the multi-language DVD version. Why is it a surprise that Microsoft might rather put all language versions (and both x86 and x64) on one DVD for distribution? Since most users of Windows have suitable on-line access to the Internet, other than enterprise users, there won’t be much demand for the DVD anyway. Plus, the DVD version must take into account all possible hardware variations ahead of time. On-line, the pertinent hardware configurations can be determined instantly and only the proper components downloaded.

These same folks gripe about the amount if disk space required for the installation itself. That’s 7GB for an x86 system. Hmmm … on a 40GB drive (Microsoft’s recommended minimum configuration for Vista), that’s about 17% free space. Since nobody recommends running any modern (preemptive multi-tasking) OS with less that 15% free space on the drive, finding enough free space to install Vista SP1 won’t exactly be a problem either.

Oh, and let’s not forget that SP1 is ultimately little more than a collection of all patches released over the last eight months. There seem to be few if any new features. That’s good. I’d rather SP1 be all performance enhancements than lots of new features. After all, wasn’t that what Windows XP really was in 2001 – a Windows 2000 Service Pack, with all the performance enhancements that Windows 2000 lacked?

One last point. The pundits notice that Windows Server 2008 seems to be timed to release at the same time as Vista SP1 but they don’t view that as a good thing which insures that any features new to Windows Server will instantly be compatible with Vista SP1.

I’d just like to know what it is that everybody is complaining about?

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