After mulling over for a few days, I installed Windows Vista SP1 today. I was thinking whether or not to go on this expedition since I did not want to spoil my weekend. But the sluggish performance of Vista on my laptop and the promised improvements made me jump on the decision to go ahead and install SP1.
The SP can be downloaded from the Microsoft website – click on Download Center link on the Related Links section – or you can wait until it appears on your Windows Update. I took the download route. The file is about 435 MB in size.
Model: Dell Inspiron 6400
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T5300 @1.73 MHz
RAM: 1 GB
HDD: Primary Drive is C: and is 50 GB in size
Optical Drive: TSST Corp
Graphics: Intel 945 GMA
Card Reader: Ricoh Co Ltd
Vista Flavor: Windows Vista Home Premium
Other Software: McAfee Internet Security, Roxio Creator DE 9, OpenOffice.org 2.3
The installation took an hour and forty minutes with three reboots in all. Post installation I also removed most of the crap that came pre-installed. I should have done this long ago but found the time today. One major irritant was Dell Media Direct which had one component called PCMService with a huge memory leak which brings the computer down to its knees after using for about an hour.
Post installation I checked all my hardware and software and compared them with the experience prior to SP1 installation
Hardware: Every piece of hardware worked. No problems with audio or graphics or even the Dell Quickset programs which are used for operating the volume and media buttons in the front.
Login: No change. Still takes the usual two minutes. I think this would have to be the highest time taken by a modern OS to boot up.
Explorer: Drastic Improvements. I must say that for the first time I found Explorer on Vista usable. No stalling until the progress bar disappears on the address bar. Folders open with ease and no stress was noticed when opening multiple Explorer windows. Almost everything thats got to do with Explorer has improved. For example, the Control Panel loads faster than it did previously.
Other Programs: Programs load much faster. Open and Save dialogs also reflect the same speed as Explorer. I get a feeling they use the same component as Explorer.
Media Center: Though I don’t use this, I opened to see how things have improved. I should say quite a lot has improved. Just as in explorer, the buttons and the menus respond beautifully. I used to struggle to go back and forth in Media Center prior to SP1 and that is one of the main reasons I stopped using Media Center
Shut Down: Shut down speed has been improved as well. It takes about 35% less time for my laptop to shut down post SP1. Its still high compared to my Linux installation which shuts down in 10-12 seconds. I am not going to mention the distro here and start a flame war 😉
After the post installation experience, my conclusion is that SP1 is really good. Of course, hardware differences might cause problems, check on the MS website if you are suspicious about some of your hardware. In the one day where I used Vista after SP1 installation for all my day to day activities, I feel one should not wait for the update to show up on Windows Update. If your hardware is the same as mine or similar, just grab the download and install. You won’t regret it.
I am seeing some quirks after the installation. Windows Update still shows 256 MB worth of updates available and that includes (see Correction) SP1. Not a major issue but quite annoying.
On a side note, I would like some opinion of Roxio Creator. I did not find it good. I have another system with Nero and it offers quite a lot of options. I would like to know any free or open source alternatives that are available for Vista with a decent feature set. Thanks in advance.
The SP1 which I said was available after the Vista SP1 install was that of MS Office 2007 Trial and a few other security updates.