Minasi says Vista SP1 solves problems, adds new ones

Windows expert Mark Minasi sorts through the new Windows Vista service pack.

CHICAGO -- If you are one of Windows Vista's early adopters, you might want to clue yourself into some of the changes introduced in Microsoft's latest service pack for Vista.

At a recent TechTarget event for IT managers held here, Windows author and expert Mark Minasi outlined some of the fixes in Vista SP1. The User Account Control feature is now a "bit less annoying," said Minasi, with only one dialogue box popping up with SP1 when you create or rename some folders instead of four UAC prompts that pop up with Vista RTM.

On the other hand, the Group Policy Management Console, a tool used by a lot of IT managers, has been removed from SP1. "You don't want users to have access to the console, but at the same time SP1 rips it out and does not provide a replacement," Minasi said.

Microsoft last week did release a separate download for SP1 called Remote Server Administration Tools that has an updated Group Policy Management Console for Vista.

Minasi also mentioned the following fixes:

  • A postreflect command addresses the problem of adding SP1 to an existing Windows image. Prior to this command, the system wouldn't boot when moving from Vista RTM to SP1 because the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) and drivers don't match SP1.
  • A backup problem -- not being able to restore -- has been fixed with a new tool, and Encrypting File System (EFS) files can now be backed up and encrypted.
  • A new defrag GUI now lets you choose volumes you want to defrag and when.
  • BitLocker now encrypts non-GUI drives and unlocks them by default.
  • Startup repair tool addresses more types of boot failures.

To make Vista "really sing," Minasi said four gigs of RAM is ideal and he recommends running the 64-bit version.

SP1 is going to probably take you hours [to install] and [it] takes four reboots, says Mark Minasi.
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But, above all, patience is the biggest requirement when migrating to Vista, he said.

"SP1 is going to probably take you hours [to install] and takes four reboots," he said.

There are a number of performance improvements gained with SP1 as well, such as the ability to move a large amount of files within a drive 25% faster now, the 10-second delay when you press ctrl-alt-del to log-on has been removed and thumbnails of objects stored on a network are now cached per system for all users, versus per user.

But with these improvements come some setbacks in SP1, he said. They are:

  • Formerly, you could see how much actual memory you had on a system. Now, it reports how much memory a system can access.
  • Windows Search has been removed from the Startup menu. You now have to open an Explorer window.
  • Now, you need to create a password hint when you create your first account in Vista Setup.
  • The MoveUser API was rewritten, so the old Resource Kit 'moveuser.exe" tool won't work.

Fixes aside, the release of SP1 did not move some Windows shops any closer to putting Vista into production.

More on Windows Vista
Free Vista Adoption Seminar
Whether you are deploying Vista soon or are still in the planning stages, attend this free one-day Vista Adoption Seminar where Mark Minasi will tell you what you need to know about Service Pack 1 and key migration issues such as licensing and application compatibility. Learn time-saving tips, pitfalls to avoid and much more. Seating is limited, so register today.
"I'm happy [SP1] is out, but there aren't any showstoppers in it," said Kevin Graham, a technical consultant based in Northbrook, Ill., with Allstate Insurance Co. His company plans to start building a base Vista image for its applications this year.

FMA Communications Inc., out of Rockford, Ill., has already downloaded SP1 and has tested one core application on the Windows Vista OS so far. Next up is testing 30 to 40 other applications with Vista.

Vicki Webb, IT director with FMA, estimated it will take two to four years before her company completely migrates to Vista. It plans to buy about 85 to 90 new machines with four gigs this summer. "We've found that there are disruptions [with Vista machines] running with two gigs," Webb said.

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