One for IT Managers: We've announced that Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista will be released in the Spring Term 2008 2008, which is good news for those who are waiting for this before doing widescale deployments of the new operating system across your college. In advance of that the Beta is available now on MSDN and Technet (if you have a Campus Agreement, you've got a free subscription to MSDN AA). Now the full details of what's in the release are on TechNet, but here's a shorter highlight list, taken from the InsideMicrosoft blog:

  • Improves power consumption when the display is not changing by allowing the processor to remain in its sleep state which consumes less energy.
  • Improves power consumption and battery life by addressing an issue that causes a hard disk to continue spinning when it should spin down, in certain circumstances.
  • SP1 addresses issues many of the most common causes of crashes and hangs in Windows Vista, as reported by Windows Error Reporting. These include issues relating to Windows Calendar, Windows Media Player, and a number of drivers included with Windows Vista.
  • Removes the delay that sometimes occurs when a user unlocks their PC.
  • Improves wireless ad-hoc connection (computer-to-computer wireless connections) success rate
  • Improves Windows Vista’s built-in file backup solution to include EFS encrypted files in the backup.
  • Adds full support for the latest IEEE draft of 802.11n wireless networking.
  • Improves the performance of browsing network file shares by consuming less bandwidth.
  • Improves the speed of adding and extracting files to and from a compressed (zipped) folder.
  • Improves performance over Windows Vista’s current performance across the following scenarios:
    • 25% faster when copying files locally on the same disk on the same machine
    • 45% faster when copying files from a remote non-Windows Vista system to a SP1 system
    • 50% faster when copying files from a remote SP1 system to a local SP1 system
  • Improves the time to read large images by approximately 50%.
  • In specific scenarios, SP1 reduces the shutdown time by a few seconds by improving the Windows Vista utility designed to sync a mobile device.
  • Reduces the time it takes to return to the user’s session when using the Photo screensaver, making it comparable to other screensavers.

And finally...

  • Users are now required to enter a password hint during the initial setup of Windows Vista SP1. This change was made based on feedback from top PC manufactures that many customers frequently do not remember their password and because the administrator account is turned off by default on Windows Vista, these users do not have a way to access to their PCs. A password hint helps avoid this frustrating scenario.
    This has got to make life a little easier for all of those people, like me, who get asked by neighbours/friends/students - How do I find out my password? - hopefully there will be less forgotten ones!

I have to say that I've been using Windows Vista since October 2006, as a typical user, and have seen very few of these problems being fixed - I especially like the further improvements in power consumption, reducing further the carbon footprint of a Windows Vista computer over a Windows XP system.