Windows Vista SP1 Beta Released to Private Testers

Multiple Microsoft sources have confirmed that the first beta test editions of Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista were distributed to a select group of about 12,000 testers today. BetaNews learned these are indeed exclusive invitees, not merely a subset of the company's MSDN or TechNet subscriber base.

An account of the SP1 experience published today by Microsoft team blogger Brandon LeBlanc confirms what BetaNews reported three weeks ago: Rather than add new features, SP1 concentrates on making the existing ones work better - at least, those which remain after a slight feature cut.

"Windows Vista SP1 allows the user to change their default desktop search provider from the built-in Windows Desktop Search that ships with Windows Vista to another third-party desktop search provider," LeBlanc wrote. "The Search option has been removed from the right side of the Start menu. Users will also notice 'See all results' has disappeared when doing a search via the Start menu. Instead, you will see 'Search Everywhere.' Search Everywhere will launch whatever is the user's default desktop search program. In Windows Explorer, users will also see a 'Search Everywhere' option in the toolbar as well."

One concern voiced by many Vista owners has been the sometimes extraordinarily long amount of time it takes for a system that has entered its power-saving state to re-emerge and offer the user a password line. LeBlanc tested SP1 in a standalone installation on a 64-bit custom-built system. There, he discovered the delay between the screen saver and the password prompt has been virtually eliminated, and the time required for emergence from sleep states has also improved.

LeBlanc admitted trouble with his prior Vista versions being able to maintain a sustained connection with his wireless home network. He reported he has yet to find himself repairing that connection with Vista SP1.

Sources report that administrators will now have the oft-requested luxury of being able to choose which volumes the BitLocker encryption utility and Disk Defragmenter will run on. Previously, their Vista incarnations only worked on the volume containing the boot sector.

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