Microsoft this afternoon announced to its beta testing community that Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) will soon be available for testing with a public release date of Q1 2008. Windows XP SP3 will also be out for testing and publicly available in the first half 2008.
Microsoft revealed that a small group of testers have had the Vista SP1 in their hands for a couple of weeks now and that Microsoft TechNet and MSDN subscribers will be able to download SP1 in the coming weeks. The beta will be 50MB, but the public standalone final version will be 1GB to support all Windows Vista platforms and languages.
So what exactly will SP1 cover? Microsoft has an entire white paper you can read if you’d like the dirty details, but here’s a quick rundown from that paper.
Security improvements that will be in Windows Vista SP1 include:
- Provides security software vendors a more secure way to communicate with Windows Security Center.
- Includes application programming interfaces (APIs) by which third-party security and malicious software detection applications can work with kernel patch protection on x64 versions of Windows Vista. These APIs help ISVs develop software that extends the functionality of the Windows kernel on x64 computers without disabling or weakening the protection offered by kernel patch protection.
- Improves the security of running RemoteApp programs and desktops by allowing Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) files to be signed. Customers can differentiate user experiences based on publisher identity.
- Adds an Elliptical Curve Cryptography (ECC) pseudo-random number generator (PRNG) to the list of available PRNGs in Windows Vista.
- Enhances BitLocker Drive Encryption (BDE) to offer an additional multifactor authentication method that combines a key protected by the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) with a Startup key stored on a USB storage device and a user-generated personal identification number (PIN).
Windows Vista SP1 will include improvements that target some of the most common causes of crashes and hangs, giving users a more consistent experience. Many of these improvements will specifically address issues identified from the Windows Error Reporting tool. The following list describes some of the reliability improvements that Windows Vista SP1 will include:
- Improved reliability and compatibility of Windows Vista when used with newer graphics cards in several specific scenarios and configurations.
- Improved reliability when working with external displays on a laptop.
- Improved Windows Vista reliability in networking configuration scenarios.
- Improved reliability of systems that were upgraded from Windows XP to Windows Vista.
- Increased compatibility with many printer drivers.
- Increased reliability and performance of Windows Vista when entering sleep and resuming from sleep.
The following list describes some of the performance improvements that Windows Vista SP1 will include:
- Improves the speed of copying and extracting files.
- Improves the time to become active from Hibernate and Resume modes.
- Improves the performance of domain-joined PCs when operating off the domain; in the current release version of Windows Vista, users would experience long delays when opening the File dialog box.
- Improves battery life by reducing CPU utilization by not redrawing the screen as frequently, on certain computers.
- Improves the logon experience by removing the occasional 10-second delay between pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL and the password prompt displaying.
- Addresses an issue in the current version of Windows Vista that makes browsing network file shares consume significant bandwidth and not perform as fast as expected.
According to Microsoft Installing the Vista SP1 service pack will require a large amount of free disk space (7 GB for x86 and 12 GB for x64). However, most of this space will be reclaimed after installation.
Windows XP SP3
SP3 will essentially be just a roll-up of all the security updates and hotfixes that have occurred since SP2 was released. There will be no new features in SP3 other than adding Network Access Protection to XP — a feature that exists in Windows Vista already. Release of Windows XP SP3 is scheduled for sometime in the first half of 2008.