I was asked this week via email from my blog...

"SP1 is available now. What's the best way to install the new service pack for Vista?" 

SP1 was launched this week and a couple of our PCs at home installed the update directly from the Microsoft.

As I noted previously, with Automatic Update, customers will see SP1 downloading to PCs automatically next month (April) in five languages.  If you have configured Windows Update to automatically download software updates, SP1 is available to many systems now. (For WU, go to the Start Menu, click on All Programs, and select Windows Update)."

For one of the systems I have that came pre-loaded with Vista (the HP 3000 Slimline), I directly downloaded the 32-bit bit English version of SP1 from the Microsoft Download Center (aka DLC).  (The 64-bit version is also available here.) 

So far so good: the PC is running as smoothly as it did with previous builds of SP1, and I'll post more as I run through any

But a minor hiccup in updating my wife's Dell Inspiron 600m.

As I noted on my post Windows Vista RC1 brings improved performance..., the release candidate (RC) of SP1 performed quite well on the old laptop, which was purchased with Windows XP SP2 preinstalled.  I found that 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. 

In order to get the new update, I first had to uninstall the SP1 RC via the Control Panel (easy enough last night), which was easy enough (took about 40 minutes).  Following that, the plan was to install the SP1 from the same bits I obtained on the DLC.

Or not.

Windows Update Control PanelIf I had gone ahead with the install directly with the bits from the DLC, the SP would have blocked the installation. [rather than my earlier indication on the post that "I could have run into a failed install." - see below for the clarification]  But as I had delayed the install of SP1, I found a notification waiting for me on the Windows Update panel.

Waiting there was a small update, required before I installed SP1.  This is explained in KB article 937287, "A software update is available for the Windows Vista installation software feature."  This article describes the software updates required prior to installing Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and noted that "these updates help improve reliability when you install or remove Windows Vista SP1."

Two or three additional software updates are required before you install Windows Vista SP1. The software updates that are required depend on the version of Windows Vista that you want to upgrade. Prerequisite update 935509 that is listed in this article only applies to Windows Vista Enterprise and to Windows Vista Ultimate. The other prerequisite updates that are listed in this article apply to all versions of Windows Vista.

Before Windows Vista SP1 is released, these prerequisite updates will be delivered to most users through Windows Update as part of regularly scheduled monthly updates. These updates will be installed together with other updates that will require that you restart the computer. Therefore, an additional restart will not be required. This delivery method will help simplify installation of the required updates.

So, I'll install the update today and proceed with the application of SP1.  And with Virtual PC, I'll continue have a virtual Windows XP machine available to run a couple of applications from my older PC and kids games. (For details on how to run a virtualized Windows XP on Vista, see PC Magazine's article Windows in a Window by Bill Dyszel.)

For consumers, you can wait for the installation of SP1 via Automatic Update, or install when it's available on your Windows Update Control Panel. 

If you're looking for more guidance, take a look at the post from Nick on the Windows Vista blog, Windows Vista SP1 Released to Windows Update, and the detailed play-by-play article from Computerworld's Gregg Keizer on How to get Vista SP1

Update 032208: Thanks to John in Windows for noting an error in my assumption that the install would have failed.  I should have remembered the rule I refer to daily: never assume anything. ;)

With either approach, John notes that I wouldn't have had a failed install due to not waiting for this update from WU...

"With the RC, you would have installed an earlier version of this update.  However, the most current version (which is on WU) is also in the standalone update that you get from download center.  You could not have installed the SP without the current version of this update being installed first... the SP would have blocked you."

I've updated the post to indicated that I would've been blocked rather than seen a failed install.

Tags: Windows Vista, Vista SP1, Gregg Keizer.