Vista Service Pack 1 Download & Install Experience
After over a year wait Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) was released
on March 18, 2008 as the first major update for Vista. It includes
all previous Vista updates plus many additional fixes and enhancements.
There are no new features but it is said to correct most issues
users were experiencing and it adds support for upcoming technologies.
For more details on what SP1 includes go to the Microsoft Windows
Vista TechCenter page "Notable Changes in Windows Vista
Service Pack 1" at
Microsoft advises home computer users to take the smaller
Windows Update version as the Full Install version (with 5 Language
package) is a whopping 434.5 MB. That's the version typically
used by System Administrators. On Dial-up it would have taken
me 17 hours and 40 minutes to download at 56K. Therefore I elected
to go with the Windows Update version, which utilizes an efficient
transfer mechanism to download only the actual bytes changed.
This is said to result in an approximately 65MB download.
I had taken all of the Windows Updates to Vista during the
past year. This made me hope that my actual download would be
somewhat smaller than advertised since I am on Dial-Up. So two
days after SP1's release I brought up Windows Update, crossed
my fingers, and clicked the link to download and install SP1.
The actual download (on Dial-Up) took 4 hours and 12 minutes
but it was not without it's share of excitement. First Windows
Update tells me that I'm downloading 66.9MB. I get 7% down and
the download stopped. I know
this because I have a Network Utilization Gadget on my Vista
Sidebar that draws neat red and green lines on a graph, red for
uploads and green for downloads. The green line had dropped to
zero. Meanwhile my hard drive activity is going wild. Of course
Microsoft does not give you a clue as to what is actually happening.
I think it might have been scanning my hard drive to see what
previous Vista updates I had installed as the download percentage
kept moving up with no download activity shown on the Network
When the download percentage got to 46% the Network Utilization
graph showed the actual download started again. A minute later
I got a "Failed Update" error with an error code. There
was a "Get Help" link so I clicked it and it gave me
24 Windows Update error codes. Guess what? Not one of the error
codes was the one I had. All of a sudden I got that "sinking"
feeling that things are not going well.
What's a person to do? I have an error with no clue as to
why it happened or what it is. I then noticed another link that
said "Try Again." Since that was the only choice I
had left I clicked it hoping I would not start the complete 66.9MB
download all over again as I was already 40 minutes into the
The actual download starts again as evidenced by my Network
Utilization graph and it still says 46% complete. Wow, that's
a relief! But what's this? Windows Update now claims my download
is 69.2MB rather than the original 66.9MB. Again, not a clue
as to why the file size has changed.
All is well until I get to 57% complete, 1 hour and 36 minutes
into the download. Up pops another error code. This time I'm
lucky. This error is one of the 24 listed codes. It says I'm
not connected to the Internet. Sure enough my connection was
I reconnect to the Internet and all goes well until I get
to 90% complete. The Network Utilization graph shows the download
has stopped and my hard drive is again going wild with activity.
Before I know it the percentage complete runs to 100%.
Next I see the Windows Update screen saying "preparing
to install, creating a restore point, installing." Another
screen pops up saying "Welcome to Vista SP1. What you should
know before installing SP1." I really am not sure "exactly"
what is going on. My hard drive is cranking away like crazy and
I have one screen saying I should know something before installing
and another indicating I am installing. Has the actual install
started or not? It was my understanding before I started this
download that one had to give permission for the actual install
to begin. I thought maybe I could just download the SP1 package,
save it on my hard drive, and install at my convenience. That
is apparently not what Microsoft had in mind. And what is it
my hard drive is working so hard at?
Perhaps all of the hard drive activity was just extracting
files from the download. I sure wish the guys that write this
code would make things clearer. Anyway, I click thru accepting
the License Agreement and get to an "Install" button.
Along the way I am told to close all open programs, the install
may take up to an hour, my computer might restart several times,
and I cannot use my computer during the install process. So I
close all open programs (except I forgot AVG Anti-Virus) and
also get off the Internet. All this time my hard drive is still
very active (doing what I don't know).
I click the "Install" button, the hard drive is
still cranking away and 8 minutes later I'm told the update has
been successfully installed, however to finish the install, I
must click "Restart Now." After clicking "Restart
Now" I'm going through "Installing Service Pack "stage
1 of 3 and then stage 2 of 3 with a percent complete listing.
Of course Microsoft again provides no information as to exactly
what is taking place. At one point durning stage one I held at
65% complete for almost 4 minutes. I was starting to wonder if
the install was hung up with my hard drive in a loop. When stage
two reached 100% my computer auto shutdown and rebooted.
On bootup I was into stage 3 of 3 with the percent complete
running. It took a long 13 minutes before I was at my Desktop
with the hard drive quiet. Along the way there were a few black
screens, one with only the mouse cursor arrow. Best I can tell
the actual install took around 35 minutes.
So far after almost 4 weeks with SP1 installed all seems well.
All programs I have tried work normally. Luckily I did not have
any of the hardware/software drivers that do not work with SP1.
Microsoft has blocked people with those problem drivers from
downloading SP1 on Windows Update.
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