The final version of Vista SP1 focuses on under-the-hood improvements to reliability, security, and performance, with very few changes made to the interface or Vista's features.

Think of Vista SP1 as a giant, glorified set of patches and fixes rather than a clear and visible change to the operating system.

Although Vista Service Pack 1 won't be available to the general public until some time in March, we received a copy of the final code and put it through its paces. Our verdict? Don't expect many surprises from SP1.

As we've written about in our review of a beta version of Windows Vista SP1, the service pack leaves just about all of the operating system's features intact, and targets performance, reliability, and security.

One fix - the death of the so-called Kill Switch - will be welcomed by many, as we'll explain later.

One of the biggest benefits Microsoft touts for Vista SP1 is faster performance, notably the speed with which it copies files to local disks and across networks.

But on our test machine, copying to local disks and across networks with Vista SP1 is generally slightly slower than pre-SP1 Vista, and lags far behind Windows XP.

It's not clear whether our results will bear out when compared to many machines. Microsoft says, in fact, that its internal testing shows speed improvements of up to 50 percent when copying files. So be aware that what you get on your machine may be dramatically different than what we found on ours, or what Microsoft found on theirs.

NEXT PAGE: installation of Windows Vista SP1 > >

See also:

Windows Vista: the definitive review

Windows Vista SP1 Release Candidate review

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