Experiences and Experiments in Programming

 Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Microsoft announced today that there will be an SP3 for Windows XP.  It is currently targeted for 1H 2008.  It is essentially a rollup of all the hot fixes and patches including security updates, out of band releases and hotfixes.  There are no new features in Windows XP SP3, with the exception of Network Access Protection, a capability in Windows Vista that is also being made available on Windows XP SP3 and will require Windows Server 2008.

As far as Vista goes, SP1 is being targeted for 1Q 2008.  In addition to previously released updates, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards.  SP1 also continues to improve upon the IT administration experience. SP1 is not intended to be a vehicle for releasing new features; however some existing components do gain enhanced functionality in SP1.

Vista SP1 is currently weighing in at about 50Mb when delivered over Windows Update, but a standalone version is planned to help larger IT organizations.  The standalone version is currently about 1Gb.  One of the reasons for the size difference is the fact that all supported languages will be included in one file.  So there is a convenience/size trade-off.

What improvements are there to reliability in SP1?
Windows Vista SP1 improves the reliability of Windows Vista in many areas.  Thanks to the rich instrumentation capability of Windows Vista, we are able to understand the type of problems that our customers are experiencing (while respecting their personal information and privacy preferences).  

Many of these crashes and blue screens stem from problems with 3rd party applications and drivers, so we are working with our partners to solve these problems together.  Other problems occur entirely in Windows code so we are aggressively working to solve as many of these as possible too. 

Some of these improvements are made available before SP1 in the August updates available via Windows Update and the Download Center. 

What are some examples of additions to the service pack in the “Support for emerging technologies and standards” category?
Throughout the lifetime of Windows, new hardware innovations occur and standards enter the marketplace.  SP1 includes support for some of these new innovations, which are expected to become increasingly important in the coming years.  For example:

  • With SP1, Windows Vista can boot via EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) on an x64 machine
  • SP1 supports ExFAT, a new file format that will be used in flash memory storage and consumer devices
  • Support for SD Advanced DMA Support to improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization is part of SP1
  • SP1 includes a series of new API's and software features to enable 3D application and game developers to make more complete and efficient use of the upcoming generation of graphics Direct3D 10.1 hardware
  • Windows Vista SP1 includes SSTP (Secure Sockets Tunnel Protocol), a remote access VPN tunneling protocol that will be part of Microsoft’s RRAS (Routing and Remote Access Service) platform.  SSTP helps provide full-network VPN remote access connections without some of the challenges that other VPN tunnels face traversing NAT, web proxies, and firewalls

What are some examples of additions to the service pack in the “Improve management experience” category?
SP1 improves the administration experience.  For example:

  • With Windows Vista SP1, BitLocker Drive Encryption has been enhanced to not only fully encrypt the entire Windows Vista volume but also any or all additional locally created data volumes.  (Customers can now not only fully encrypt C: but also D: and E:)
  • SP1 Improves printer management by addressing problems associated with printing to a local printer from within a Terminal Server session
  • Network Diagnostics in Windows Vista SP1 will help users with the most common file sharing problems, in addition to basic problems already supported
  • SP1 includes an update to Disk Defragmenter so administrators can control which volumes the disk  defragmenter runs on

Additionally, the tools used to manage Group Policy for Windows Vista will change with the installation of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. GPMC will be uninstalled with Service Pack 1 and GPEdit will default to Local Group Policy editing. Following these changes, SP1 users can download an updated version of GPMC that contains much requested functionality including the ability to add comments to GPOs or individual settings, to search for specific GP settings, and to use Starter GPOs which encapsulate best practices.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 4:28:33 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Who Am I - Todd Miranda
MVP Visual Developer - ASP/ASP.NET
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