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Exclusive: Windows Vista SP1 Update!

August 29th, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

General Overview:

What is Windows Vista Service Pack 1?

Windows Vista SP1 is an update to Windows Vista that, along with improvements delivered to users via Windows Update, addresses feedback from our customers. While SP1 contains valuable updates to Windows, organizations don’t need to wait to deploy and can experience the improved security, management and deployment benefits of Windows Vista today.

In addition to previously released updates, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards. SP1 also continues to improve upon the IT administration experience. SP1 is not intended to be a vehicle for releasing new features; however some existing components do gain enhanced functionality in SP1.

Windows Vista SP1 is designed to not significantly change the UI or to cause regressions in application compatibility.1

When will the Windows Vista SP1 beta be released?

The beta will be released to a moderate size audience in a few weeks.

What guidance would we like MVPs to share with customers considering waiting until SP1 before evaluating Windows Vista?

Customers do not need to wait for SP1 to deploy Windows Vista. Today, Windows Vista provides higher productivity, mobility, and security, with lower ownership costs, than any previous version of Windows. We encourage our customers to begin their Windows Vista evaluation and deployment now.

1. Customers currently evaluating and deploying Windows Vista should continue their evaluation, pilot programs, and deployment on Windows Vista RTM. Microsoft provides the tools and guidance customers need to deploy Windows Vista today and will provide additional guidance, tools and support for moving to SP1 when the service pack is released.

2. Customers just starting to evaluate Windows Vista should plan a pilot program, targeting the PCs that gain the most business value from Windows Vista (for example, many organizations will find that mobile PCs get the most benefits) and present the simplest upgrade from Windows Vista RTM to SP1. (A customer ready white paper discussing best practices for running a pilot can be found here: http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsVista/en/library/a825cf2a-5248-4aa7-b8f5-a074339c729c1033.mspx)

3. Customers waiting for Windows Vista SP1 should start their compatibility testing on Windows Vista RTM now, and then begin their evaluation and pilot programs on the RC Windows Vista SP1 when it is released. Windows Vista includes some architectural changes relative to Windows XP, in the interest of improved security and reliability. These changes can cause some applications which work on Windows XP not to work on Windows Vista. However, it is important to note that these architectural changes are also part of Windows Vista SP1. For this reason, testing applications on Windows Vista RTM will be a very good proxy for compatibility with Windows Vista SP1.

Customers should alert ISVs if specific applications are not yet compatible on Windows Vista RTM, and should begin remediating internal applications if they are found not to be compatible.

(Additional customer-ready application compatibility content can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsvista/aa905066.aspx)

What improvements are there to reliability in SP1?

Windows Vista SP1 improves the reliability of Windows Vista in many areas. Thanks to the rich instrumentation capability of Windows Vista, we are able to understand the type of problems that our customers are experiencing (while respecting their personal information and privacy preferences).

Many of these crashes and blue screens stem from problems with 3rd party applications and drivers, so we are working with our partners to solve these problems together. Other problems occur entirely in Windows code so we are aggressively working to solve as many of these as possible too.

Some of these improvements are made available before SP1 in the August updates available via Windows Update and the Download Center.

What are some examples of additions to the service pack in the “Support for emerging technologies and standards” category? Throughout the lifetime of Windows, new hardware innovations occur and standards enter the marketplace. SP1 includes support for some of these new innovations, which are expected to become increasingly important in the coming years. For example:

· With SP1, Windows Vista can boot via EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) on an x64 machine

· SP1 supports ExFAT, a new file format that will be used in flash memory storage and consumer devices

· Support for SD Advanced DMA Support to improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization is part of SP1

· SP1 includes a series of new API’s and software features to enable 3D application and game developers to make more complete and efficient use of the upcoming generation of graphics Direct3D 10.1 hardware

· Windows Vista SP1 includes SSTP (Secure Sockets Tunnel Protocol), a remote access VPN tunneling protocol that will be part of Microsoft’s RRAS (Routing and Remote Access Service) platform. SSTP helps provide full-network VPN remote access connections without some of the challenges that other VPN tunnels face traversing NAT, web proxies, and firewalls

What are some examples of additions to the service pack in the “Improve management experience” category?

SP1 improves the administration experience. For example:

· With Windows Vista SP1, BitLocker Drive Encryption has been enhanced to not only fully encrypt the entire Windows Vista volume but also any or all additional locally created data volumes. (Customers can now not only fully encrypt C: but also D: and E:)

· SP1 Improves printer management by addressing problems associated with printing to a local printer from within a Terminal Server session

· Network Diagnostics in Windows Vista SP1 will help users with the most common file sharing problems, in addition to basic problems already supported

· SP1 includes an update to Disk Defragmenter so administrators can control which volumes the disk defragmenter runs on

Additionally, the tools used to manage Group Policy for Windows Vista will change with the installation of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. GPMC will be uninstalled with Service Pack 1 and GPEdit will default to Local Group Policy editing. Following these changes, SP1 users can download an updated version of GPMC that contains much requested functionality including the ability to add comments to GPOs or individual settings, to search for specific GP settings, and to use Starter GPOs which encapsulate best practices.

What languages will Windows Vista SP1 include?

SP1 is going to be released in two waves. The initial release of SP1 will include 5 languages (English, French, Spanish, German, and Japanese). A Service Pack containing all 36 of the languages (including the original 5) will be released about 3 months later.

What drivers are new in SP1?

Windows Vista SP1 does not include new drivers. Rather, new drivers are delivered to users via Windows Update or directly from the driver vendor. There are two benefits to doing it this way:

· Drivers can be delivered when they are available, and not just with the service pack

· Via WU, drivers are only delivered to PCs which need those drivers, which help keep the size of the service pack from growing.

When will Windows Vista SP1 be released?

· We currently expect to deliver SP1 during the first quarter of 2008, but we will collect customer feedback from our upcoming beta process before setting a final date. Quality is our most important factor when determining availability.

· The beta will be released to approximately 10-15K private testers that will not include TechNet subscribers, but MSDN and Technet subscribers will be able to participate in testing when the RC of Windows Vista SP1 is available. The timing of the RC will be based on feedback from the beta testers, and we’ll share more info as we have it.

How large will the Service Pack 1 be?

The Beta of Windows Vista SP1 will be approximately 50 MB when delivered over Windows Update (to 32-bit PCs). We expect that will be the experience for the majority of our users. For IT Departments in large organizations, we also provide the “Standalone Package”. It will be significantly larger in size (about 1 GB for 32-bit), as it includes more just the changed files between Windows Vista Gold and Windows Vista SP1 as well as all 36 languages.

There are three changes to how the standalone Service Pack is built in Windows Vista which are responsible for its larger size. However, these changes also bring benefits to IT professionals.

1. For the first time ever, the “standalone” package includes every language that Windows is released in. This increases the size but adds the benefit that the same package can be used to apply SP1 on any Windows Vista computer in an organization, regardless of language.

2. Additionally, updating in Windows Vista is now “component based.” This means that if a file is changed, the entire component, including some files that may not been changed, is included in the standalone pack. This is a departure from previous versions of Windows, where the basic unit of updating was a file, not a component. A component is made up of multiple files.

There are a number of benefits gained with the new component based servicing model. For instance:

· More reliable out of order uninstall

Uninstalling packages in a different reverse order than they were installed in could result in an inconsistent system state. Now packages can be uninstalled in any order more reliably

· Automatic Language Updates

When an update is installed, the MUI files for all installed languages can be updated simultaneously, since they are in the component store

3. Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 have been built from the same fundamental source code base since the beginning. Many of the core files are identical between the two products, although each product has unique features, specific individual files and functional behaviors that are appropriate for the intended customer uses for the specific product. For example, Windows Media Center only appears in Windows Vista, while Active Directory or Windows Clustering only appears in Windows Server 2008. Examples of common files shared between the two operating systems are the kernel and core OS files, the networking stack, file sharing. In the past year since the Vista public release, the common files in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 have been continually improved based on customer beta feedback, customer deployments, and Microsoft internal testing.

Because these are common files, any changes to the code for Windows Server 2008 will result in corresponding changes in the files in Vista SP1. Some of these changes may increase the reliability of Vista SP1, while others may be in server-only codepaths that do not directly affect Windows Vista customers. However, in order to keep the code common for future servicing and management, the changes have to be included in the common version of the files. While many of these files have been updated for Server scenarios, most of these changes do not change the features or functionality of Windows Vista, but they are included in the service pack.

Who will receive the Beta of Windows Vista SP1?

There are approximately 10,000 customers and partners that will be participating in this beta. We rely on this group to help us test our software on a broader range of hardware and over diverse usage scenarios as well as to ensure that the larger partner ecosystem has had sufficient time to test their products on Windows Vista SP1.

Microsoft has created deployment guidance, available to beta testers on Microsoft Connect. The Application Compatibility Toolkit and Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) will be updated to help customers prepare for and deploy for SP1.

What about MSDN and TechNet subscribers access the Beta?

Currently the beta is restricted to about 10,000 participants, which represent a sampling of our user base. MSDN and TechNet members will gain access to a later milestone beta of SP1, to be announced later during the beta cycle.

Additional Resources

SP1 White Paper

Check TechNet for Link

Windows Vista blog

http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsvista/default.aspx

Application Compatibility Resources

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsvista/aa905066.aspx

Piloting Windows Vista

http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsVista/en/library/a825cf2a-5248-4aa7-b8f5-a074339c729c1033.mspx

Posted in Windows Vista | 1 Comment »

Exclusive: Windows XP SP3 and Windows Server 2008 Update!

August 29th, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

Windows XP SP3

On 8/28/07 we will also be announcing plans for Windows XP SP3 as a roll up of all the hot fixes and patches including security updates, out of band releases and hotfixes. This is a standard practice to release a service pack as a release nears end-of-life that rolls up all hot fixes and patches, for the convenience of our customers and partners. There are no new features in Windows XP SP3, with the exception of Network Access Protection, a capability in Windows Vista that is also being made available on Windows XP SP3 and will require Windows Server 2008.

When will Windows XP SP3 be available?

We are targeting 1H 2008 for the release of Windows XP SP3, though our timing will always be based on quality as a first priority.

Windows Server 2008 update:

· Windows Server 2008 is now slated to release to manufacturing in the first quarter of calendar year 2008. The joint Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 launch, scheduled for February 27, 2008 in Los Angeles, CA, as well as the launch events taking place around the world, remain on track.

· Windows Server 2008 is releasing to manufacturing a bit later than expected because Microsoft’s first priority is to deliver a quality product to our customers and we need a little more time to meet the high quality bar that we set for ourselves.

· Microsoft Windows Server 2008, with its built-in web and virtualization technologies, is the most robust, secure, and reliable foundation on which to develop, deliver, and manage rich user experiences and applications.

Posted in MS News | Comments Off on Exclusive: Windows XP SP3 and Windows Server 2008 Update!

Windows Server 2008 – Launching in 185 days

August 25th, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

Counting down to Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 Global Launch in 185 days!

You can download the Vista Sidebar countdown’s gadget from:

http://www.wedsg.com/winclient/vistasidebargadget/download.htm

2008 Global Launch Wave

 

More information can be found from:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/default.mspx

Posted in Windows Server System | Comments Off on Windows Server 2008 – Launching in 185 days

Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2c is released

August 10th, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

But only for system builders.

SP2c Features and Requirements
There are no other features or fixes included in this service pack; it will only allow for the inclusion of additional product keys. When using SP2c product keys, system builders must:

  • Use the product keys with SP2c media.
  • Create new images from SP2c to accommodate the new product keys. A hotfix will not be provided.

Source: http://blogs.technet.com/backroom/archive/2007/08/09/microsoft-windows-xp-professional-service-pack-2c-release.aspx

Posted in Windows XP | 3 Comments »

Tip: How to use “ReadyBoost” on Windows XP

August 9th, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

Many XP users are desperate to use a feature like Vista Readyboost on XP. It seems in some cases that people hate to wait for a program to be released; which is a shame considering how the best things in life comes with patience. However, for those of you who can’t wait for programmers to release a simple application, you can use Windows XP unspoken Readyboost Feature.

NOTE: Before reading the info below, be aware that even though it may appear simple, most people don’t know how to activate this feature properly. As a result to the aforementioned, many don’t achieve the expected results -> [For these users, I advice you to be patient and to wait for programmers to do their jobs]-> ALSO, BE SURE YOU HAVE A READYBOOST COMPATIBLE FLASK DRIVE, otherwise, you won’t see any difference in Window performance (even though you can use this feature on any flask drive).

Right click on My Computer, go to Properties, and then navigate to the Advanced or Performance tab.
After you have reached this point, follow the images below.



Once you have reached the screen above, select your flask drive, and add it to your virtual memory (paging size is up to you).

*It is recommend making a partition just for file swaping (if using a hard drive instead of a flask drive), so that system fragmentation won’t force the swap file to fragment as well.

*As investigated by Morara*: The max amount of swap per drive is 4GB, but you can put more by spreading it out across multiple drives. As far as size, a general rule of thumb is to use twice your RAM until you break 2GB on a desktop (CAD workstations and servers might require more), then use an amount equal to your RAM.

Source: http://www.windowsxlive.net/?p=1337#more-1337

UPDATE: Use the above information at your own risk. It is not a supported configuration and it could cause system instability. But do post back here if any of you who are trying this and let us know if it works for you.

Posted in Windows XP | 5 Comments »

Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 RTMed!

August 5th, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

Did you know that Office Communications Server 2007 has RTMed on July 29th?

So what can you expect with OCS, and what is included in this release?

  • Software powered VoIP: by using a smart end-point (aka a PC), OCS and Communicator 2007 allow a much richer experience than traditional VoIP systems.
  • Software economics: OCS works with a broad range of devices, phones, applications from a wide range of partners.
  • Voice quality: The listening and call quality offered by a pre-release version of Office Communications Server 2007 was “considerably better than that provided by [a leading provider’s] IP phones,” according to an independent benchmark study conducted by Psytechnics, a firm specialising in voice-quality research.
  • Easy transition: Companies can get more value from their existing PBX systems, networks and desk phones by using Office Communications Server to add VoIP and unified communications capabilities without ripping and replacing existing investments.
  • Streamlined communications: click-to-call from Outlook, Word, Sharepoint and other apps – including the ability to simply add presence and telephony/video to LOB or custom applications/websites.
  • Tools that travel: It doesn’t matter if you’re in the office sitting at your desk, working from home, or sitting at a coffee shop – you still have all of your communications tools available.  In fact right now I am writing this from a hotel in Seattle.  My girlfriend in Sydney can dial my local 02 phone number and I take the call over here on my PC.  All of this without a VPN!!  As long as I have web access, then I can make and receive calls – and due to our adaptive codecs (more info below) it doesn’t matter that I am running across an unreliable unmanaged network (aka the Internet).

Source: http://blogs.technet.com/jkruse/archive/2007/07/29/ocs-goes-gold.aspx

Posted in Office Communications Server | 3 Comments »

Microsoft Response Point coming soon!

August 4th, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

Do you need a lighter version of Office Communications Server? Is your small business in need of a better easier to manage phone system with Outlook integration? This is where Microsoft Response Point comes to the rescue!

 Microsoft Response Point phone system software was designed for small businesses with simplicity in mind. Backed by industry leading hardware vendors like D-Link, Quanta and Uniden, Microsoft Response Point offers a breakthrough voice-activated user interface, simplified setup and system management, and the calling capabilities your business needs.

Microsoft Response Point features include:

  • Phone and service configuration wizards
  • Phone auto discovery
  • One-touch voice commands
  • Automated Receptionist
  • Built in voicemail
  • Voicemail to e-mail forwarding
  • Incoming call notifications on your PC
  • Microsoft Outlook contact integration
  • Two-click backup and restore

Microsoft Response Point will be released sometime around Fall 07.

More information can be found here.

Posted in Products | Comments Off on Microsoft Response Point coming soon!