(Note: info on the release version of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is available here. This article discusses whether or not you should install a service pack directly from the Microsoft Download Center or wait for installation via Microsoft Windows Update.)

OK, lots of feedback (generally positive) from folks on my post from yesterday, Windows Vista Service Pack 1 RC Refresh is publicly available. Should you install it- Depends.  I guess that yesterday's game in Green Bay had folks in a bad mood...

One of the reasons to install RC1 will be the improved performance.  I've found this first hand, particularly when using Vista Sleep (S3 mode) and Hibernate (S4).  With RC1, I have moved to use Sleep (S3) almost exclusively for my office workstations and notebooks, as well as for machines at home. 

One of the biggest complaints I've heard from customers is the amount of time it takes to recover from S4 and even from S3 in Vista RTM.  This combined with some overall sluggishness in machine performance which people found with Vista that they didn't see on their trusty Windows XP SP2 system (particularly in upgrade scenarios).

Writer James Fallows posted this week that Kenneth Rhee is apparently considering a move back to the Mac after moving to Vista, due in part to a slow recovery from hibernation:

...Just the other day I had my MacBook Pro packed for a trip, and I had to do something quick at the last minute before we departed, and I turned on my hibernated (not sleep mode) Thinkpad check on one email quickly.
Believe or not it took the Vista laptop 5 minutes to wake up and restore for me to get the work. My MacBook Pro boots cold much faster than this! In the meantime, my wife was waiting for me to come down from my study and getting anxious

Ouch.

Serendipitously enough, we were looking at this very customer scenario this week at the office, following a fresh install of the latest Vista service pack, SP1.  The biggest challenge we've had on my son's notebook is the amount of additional software installed by the manufacturer.  In Max's his view (and mine) the additional applications and add-ons seem to hit the performance of the new desktop replacement machine, making it "really slow" in his words. 

I have found (as have many others) that uninstalling various pre-installed software can improve performance.  In more drastic situations, reinstalling the OS with a clean boot makes for an improved customer experience (assuming that the OEM makes it easy for you to find all the needed drivers, add-on software and utilities). 

Here's the cautionary note: Before you take such a drastic measure as the latter, I first recommend that you delete what appears to be add-on software that loads on boots and items you don't need that are littering your Windows Vista taskbar.  You can accomplish this by uninstalling software using the Programs and Features control panel in Windows Vista, or by using the uninstaller included with the application or service.

So I took the management challenge after my boss waded through a clean install on his new notebook, and reinstalled the Vista OS complete with the new service pack on to a stock Dell Inspiron 600m laptop (nothing special, two year old machine).  Again, make sure that you have all the basic drivers for your machine saved on a CD or USB memory stick, just in case.  Kudos to Dell and HP for making this a painless process on their customer service web sites.

My unscientific findings: with a clean install on an old laptop, it takes only 20 seconds to recover from Hibernate, and less than five seconds to recover from Sleep.  A DVD inserted in the drive is playing in less than 20 seconds. 

And this post by Megan McArdle at The Atlantic, who uses a Mac "because The Atlantic uses Macs."

I appear to be the only person in the known universe who did not have a problem with Vista. My Sony Vista laptop was fast, woke up out of sleep mode just fine, and if I had any complaint it was with the crap Sony loaded on it, not the OS itself. Vista itself was lovely, though I turned off the damn security alerts.

Here's more info on improving PC performance by removing pre-installed items:

Tags: performance, tips, Windows Vista, notebook, hardware, Dell, HP, customer experience.

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