A List of What's New in Vista SP1

Now that Microsoft has set a release date for both the beta and final versions of Windows Vista Service Pack 1, the company is also offering a detailed look at what's being fixed and changed. One thing customers will not see is major changes to User Account Control, although Microsoft says it will reduce some pop-ups.

Perhaps the most notable change will not be for customers, but rather Microsoft partners. The company is including an API that third-party developers can tap into in order to work with kernel patch protection on x64 editions of Vista. This patch protection has proven to be a problem to antivirus and other security vendors.

Microsoft has classified the updates in Vista SP1 into three categories: quality improvements, including reliability, security and performance; improvements to the administration experience, including BitLocker; and support for emerging technologies and standards like EFI and exFAT.

Here is an the initial list of changes the company has provided for the beta release:

Security Improvements

  • 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).

Reliability Fixes

  • 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.

Performance Improvements

  • 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 performance of Windows Internet Explorer 7 in Windows Vista, reducing CPU utilization and speeding JavaScript parsing.
  • 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.

Administration Experience Changes

  • BitLocker Drive Encryption encrypts extra local volumes. For example, instead of encrypting only drive C, customers can also encrypt drive D, E, and so on.
  • Addresses problems with printing to local printers from a Windows Terminal Services session.
  • The Network Diagnostics tool will help customers solve the most common file sharing problems, in addition to the basic problems that it already diagnoses.
  • Administrators can control the volumes on which to run Disk Defragmenter.
  • The service pack will uninstall the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) and GPEdit.msc will edit local Group Policy by default. In the SP1 timeframe, administrators can download an out-of-band release that will give them the ability to add comments to Group Policy Objects (GPOs) or individual settings and search for specific settings.

Support for Emerging Hardware and Standards

  • In the future, flash memory storage and consumer devices will use the exFAT file system. Windows Vista SP1 adds support for this file system to Windows Vista.
  • The service pack will include support for Secure Digital (SD) Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA), which will be on compliant SD host controllers soon, to improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization.
  • x64 PCs can boot using the EFI. Windows Vista currently supports network boot by using Windows Deployment Services for x86, a PC's basic input/output system (BIOS) for x64 PCs, and EFI for IA-64 PCs. Windows Vista SP1 will add support for network boot by using x64 EFI.
  • The service pack will add support for Direct3D 10.1, adding application programming interfaces (APIs) and features that enable 3-D applications, so game developers can better take advantage of a new generation of Direct3D graphics hardware.
  • The Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) is a remote access tunneling protocol that will be part of the Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) platform. This protocol helps provide full-network virtual private network (VPN) remote access connections without challenges that other protocols face when traversing NATs, Web proxies, and firewalls. Windows Vista SP1 will include support for SSTP.

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