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LEAKED: Vista SP1 analysed in-depth

The Highlander

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LEAKED: Vista SP1 analysed in-depth

It's no secret that there's a leaked beta of Vista SP1 floating around, but no-one yet has really taken the time to analyse it in detail to find out what it really does.


I made it my mission this weekend to trawl through the registry and file changes in SP1 to find out as best I could exactly what SP1 does.


First up, I can say that there is a very noticeable performance increase. It is obvious that since Microsoft released Vista to manufacturing, it has been optimising the code ever since. (I suspect this revelation will fuel the fires of the people who say Vista was released before it was ready for prime-time.) There’s far less hard drive thrashing and in general the system seems much smoother and more responsive.


Amusingly, the build of SP1 we saw (which in this beta comes fully integrated into a 3.2GB Vista install DVD, rather than as a standalone update) still has Microsoft's internal network shares embedded as the source of the updates. For example:





Not that that info is really useful to anyone, but it mildly tickled our curiosity bone (next to the funny bone) to see the file layout of Microsoft's internal distribution shares.


Vista SP1


The first noticable change is obviously the version number. Windows Vista has a build number of 6.0.6000, whereas this build is 6.0.6001 (full version number is 6001.16549). This is quite interesting as one of the much-anticipated (and officially acknowledged) changes in SP1 was to bring the Vista kernel up to the same kernel as that used in Windows 2008 (version 6.1). It's possible that this aspect of the service pack is still in development, and not included in this version of the private beta.


Vista SP1 Build Number


Normally, service packs don’t include new features – Windows XP SP2 being the standout exception. By and large this seems to be true of Vista SP1, although there is a new maintenance application called “Create a Recovery Disc”. This isn’t the same thing as creating a backup of the system to DVD – instead this process creates a recovery DVD which you can use with system recovery options if you don’t have an original Windows DVD or you can’t access OEM recovery tools.


Create Your Own Recovery Disc


At this point in its development, SP1 comes installed with four updates:


Service Pack for Microsoft Windows (KB936330)

Service Pack for Microsoft Windows (KB937286)

Hotfix for Microsoft Windows (KB937287)

Update for Microsoft Windows (KB938371)

There is a full list of suspected hotfixes that were to be included with Vista SP1 (check them out at www.vistasp1.net), but these four are not on the list. Unfortunately as the beta is not yet public, there’s no publicly-accessible information out there about these updates.


However, some hours of digging around in the registry did uncover quite a bit of information, mostly to do with the package load of each update and the Windows components it influences (bear in mind that this information is current for this particular version of SP1 – it may change in the public beta and in the final release).


Poking around in the registry: reveals a surprising amount about the private life of an OS update

Service Pack for Microsoft Windows (KB936330) contains 133 individual packages and is by far the biggest of the updates, so will probably be the service pack as we think of it. It is applied to the following Vista components:




BLB Client

Branding Ultimate Client

BRCpl Basic/Premium/Pro & BRCpl Basic/Premium/Pro Language Pack

Capture Wizard

Client Features


CodecPack Basic Encoder/Package

Desktop Manager

DFSR Client Edition

Disk Diagnosis

Fax Client (for all versions of Vista)


Group Policy Client Extensions / Client Tools

Help Core Client

IIS WebServer AddOn (38 packages are devoted to this component)

IIS WebServer (another 18 packages for this component)

Indexing Service

Media Center / Media Format / Media Player

MobilePC Basic/Premium/SideShow


MSMQ Client

NetFx3 OC

NFS Client

Offline Files

Optical Media

Parental Controls

Peer-to-Peer AdHoc Meetings / Full

Photo Basic/Premium

Previous Versions

Printing Foundation / Printing Premium Tools / Printing XP Services

RDC (Remote Desktop Connection)


Remote Assistance

Removable Storage Management

Secure Startup

ServicingBaseline (for all versions of Windows)

Shell Inbox Games / Premium Inbox Games

Simple TCP

SNMP Package

SUA (Subsystem for UNIX Applications)

System Restore

TabletPC OC

Telnet Client / Telnet Server

Terminal Services Command Line Tools / Misc Redirection / USB Redirector / WM Provider

Windows Foundation Language Packs

WMI SNMP Provider

WMP Network Sharing Service

MSSSVC Rules (for all versions of Vista)

Server Help (for all versions of Vista)

Service Pack for Microsoft Windows (KB937286) contains 28 packages. The bulk of the updates are applied to the Windows Help Core Client, but it also affects client packages for:


Windows MobilePC (Basic, Premium, SideShow and Help)

Windows ServicingBaseline (for all versions of Windows Vista)

Server Help (for all versions of Windows Vista).

Hotfix for Microsoft Windows (KB937287) contains just one package, which is applied to the Servicing Stack, a component used in Vista imaging.


Update for Microsoft Windows (KB938371) contains three packages, which are applied to:


OS loader

Windows Task Scheduler Service

Windows Update Standalone Installer (WUSA)

Foundation Package

Common Log

Delta Package Expander

OLE Automation

All Windows Foundation and WindowsPE Language Packs

The services packs are very clearly directed towards backend services rather than frontend features. I pointed the SP1 system to Windows Update to see whether it needed any Vista updates, and it didn’t. So as expected, all Vista updates since Vista was released (and there haven’t been many) have been bundled into SP1.


The Vista SP1 packages: you can uninstall them from the SP1 build if you so desire, and return to bog standard Vista RTM.


Performance and Compatibility


This service pack isn’t to be confused with two enhancement packs which were leaked to the public a few weeks ago, and then officially released by Microsoft with virtually no fanfare on the 8th and the 9th. These two updates address compatibility and performance features in Vista.


The “compatibility” update (KB938194), “improves the compatibility and reliability of Windows Vista” in the following scenarios:


The screen may go blank when you try to upgrade the video driver. For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

932539 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/932539/) The screen may go blank when you try to upgrade the video driver on a Windows Vista-based computer

The computer stops responding, and you receive a "Display driver stopped responding and has recovered" error message. You can restart the computer only by pressing the computer's power button.

The computer stops responding or restarts unexpectedly when you play video games or perform desktop operations.

The Diagnostic Policy Service (DPS) stops responding when the computer is under heavy load or when very little memory is available. This problem prevents diagnostics from working.

The screen goes blank after an external display device that is connected to the computer is turned off. For example, this problem may occur when a projector is turned off during a presentation.

There are stability issues with some graphics processing units (GPUs). These issues could cause GPUs to stop responding (hang).

Visual appearance issues occur when you play graphics-intensive games.

You experience poor playback quality when you play HD DVD disks or Blu-ray disks on a large monitor.

Applications that load the Netcfgx.dll component exit unexpectedly.

Windows Calendar exits unexpectedly after you create a new appointment, create a new task, and then restart the computer.

Internet Connection Sharing stops responding after you upgrade a computer that is running Microsoft Windows XP to Windows Vista and then restart the computer.

The Printer Spooler service stops unexpectedly.

You receive a "Stop 0x0000009F" error when you put the computer to sleep while a Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) connection is active. For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

931671 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/931671/) Error message when you put a Windows Vista-based computer to sleep while a PPP connection is active: "STOP 0x0000009F"

The “performance” update (KB938979), “improves the performance and reliability of Windows Vista” in the following scenarios:


You experience a long delay when you try to exit the Photos screen saver.

A memory leak occurs when you use the Windows Energy screen saver.

If User Account Control is disabled on the computer, you cannot install a network printer successfully. This problem occurs if the network printer is hosted by a Windows XP-based or a Windows Server 2003-based computer.

When you write data to an AVI file by using the AVIStreamWrite function, the file header of the AVI file is corrupted.

When you copy or move a large file, the "estimated time remaining" takes a long time to be calculated and displayed.

After you resume the computer from hibernation, it takes a long time to display the logon screen.

When you synchronize an offline file to a server, the offline file is corrupted.

If you edit an image file that uses the RAW image format, data loss occurs in the image file. This problem occurs if the RAW image is from any of the following digital SLR camera models:

Canon EOS 1D

Canon EOS 1DS

After you resume the computer from hibernation, the computer loses its default gateway address.

Poor memory management performance occurs.

That last one is wonderfully vague. And I’ve certainly experienced the “estimated time remaining” problem, so I’ll be applying that particular update.


Both updates are available for 32- and 64-bit versions of Vista.


Because the packages bundled into the service pack aren’t labelled by their KB number, it’s hard to say with certainty whether these updates have been incorporated.


There are many rumours flying around as to when SP1 will be released, but there's nothing really concrete. The best that can be said is that the public beta is due later in the year, with the final release happening sometime in 2008.


The big question is whether the hint of a service pack on the horizon will encourage businesses to hold off deploying Vista, especially if they're contemplating Windows Server 2008 as well. This isn't a situation Microsoft wants, but if it's generally known that Vista SP1 has substantial advantages of non-SP1, it's difficult to make a business case for early adoption.


Personally, I haven't had too many problems with Vista to speak of, but if this private beta is anything like the final release, it can’t come soon enough. I want those performance improvements on my main desktop machines!



Read it here: http://apcmag.com/6929/vista_sp1_in_depth

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