More Vista fixes in the pipeline

Patch Tuesday isn’t just for security fixes. Microsoft’s Nick White has details on a series of updates for Windows Vista due to be delivered tomorrow:

  • An update on system compatibility, reliability and stability:  extends the battery life for mobile devices, improves stability of wireless network services, and shortens recovery time after Windows Vista experiences a period of inactivity, among other fixes.
  • An update to USB core components:  mainly affects systems returning from sleep or hibernation, fixing problems causing 1-2% of all crashes reported.
  • An update to Windows Media Center:  among other things, affects interaction issues occurring between Media Center PC and Microsoft Xbox 360 when Xbox 360 is used as a Media Center Extender.

Meanwhile, I’m seeing proof that the steady release of updates from Microsoft and from third parties is paying off. Here’s the Reliability Monitor report for my main system from September 5:


And here’s the equivalent report from this morning:


It’s worth noting that even back in September my experience with Vista was perfectly acceptable. Most of those incidents were minor annoyances (Explorer crashes, IE resets, drivers that didn’t install properly on the first try, and so on) rather than showstopper bugs. What I notice in recent months is that there are fewer annoyances, and I’m incrementally more productive.

This machine is not running the September beta of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. Ironically, my Asus Tablet PC, which is running that preliminary SP1 release, has had the exact opposite experience during that time, diving from a perfect 10.0 in late September to a weak 5.09. Most of the pain has been due to a bug I’m still trying to isolate, which causes the system to lock up under certain circumstances when running on battery power and using Office 2007 applications. The good news is I’ve filed multiple crash reports and hopefully someone in Redmond is paying attention.

Although those two data points hardly constitute a trend, they should serve as at least a cautionary tale if you’re thinking of fooling around with beta software. There’s a reason that SP1 isn’t ready for official release yet.

Update: Almost forgot to mention that Mary Jo Foley says a new build of SP1 is waiting in the wings.

11 thoughts on “More Vista fixes in the pipeline

  1. Ed, MS somehow gave you an early look at the first fix:

    Now, I know it’s been available in the Download Center for a while (that’s where I installed it, after it was fixed), but how is it that WU delivered it to you early?

    On Reliability Monitor, I still can’t ascribe much meaning to it, certainly not to indicate any improvements resulting from system updates, since the graph’s mood is heavily influenced by how much alpha/beta software I run. For example, over the last few weeks I’ve been using a test-version of a browser, which is my most-used app. Many app crashes have resulted, none of which relate to Vista. Accordingly, my Reliability Monitor looks terrible largely as a result of this one app. This has nothing to do with any system updates.

  2. Rick, I didn’t get that patch through Windows Update (nor did I say I did, although I guess a lot of people assumed that from my report). I wrote: “Windows Vista alerted me this morning that a solution was available to a problem I experienced yesterday.” I thought that language made it pretty clear that the alert came via the Problems and Solutions module, which popped up a message saying it had a solution for a problem I had reported earlier. The solution was this download.

    I might write this up as a new post.

  3. Great, I’ve been having really bad battery life expectancy on XPS M1210 laptop; running vista. Compared to XP-MCE there’s no doubt Vista needs some tweaking in that dept. Hopefully these incremental updates add to the efficiency along with OEM driver updates.

    I find it odd that the reliability index counts so many minor uninstalls and otherwise ‘tweaking’ efforts against my system reliability.

    In all honestly it should count the number of times I kill processes from the task manager or when the vista shell ‘whites out’ saying ‘not responding'(happens a lot in outlook).

  4. Ed, wow, I completely misread that and took it to mean Windows Update. Though to my credit, I’ve never once had Vista get back to me about a problem I’ve reported (Bill Gates has called a couple times, but I make it a rule to refuse his calls), so I wasn’t even aware that was a feature. Well, I probably was at one time, but had long forgotten about it.

  5. The first thing I checked was copy & paste in Explorer. (sort of my standard test to see if there are any performance improvements with a Vista patch)

    I was impressed this time. 2500 files amounting to around 455 mb copied over in about 40 seconds. That’s as good or better than XP. Deleting those same files was almost instantaneous. I also noticed that the silly “calculating…..”message was not there either.

    I did this little excercise on the main drive, and to a USB external drive with very similar results.

  6. I just had a look at my readings and was quite surprised that that the lowest reading I have had was 8.93 while the highest was 9.86. The only two failures that I had were minor i.e. IE7 crashing twice since 14 Oct, nothing else has happened since and that is with the performance and reliability updates installed in one guise or another. Overall, my system is running sweetly unless you say different. J.B.

  7. Personally, my experience with Vista x64 has been very good. I think that only problem I have experienced is with Apple’s Quicktime software, but I can hardly blame Microsoft for that.

  8. Ed, My system is an HP dv9340eu Notebook with 2 gig of memory. Intel core 2 duo T5500 1.6 GH processor, nvidia geforce go 7600 graphics and Vista x32 Home premium. I have to say that I do not have to many 3rd party programs installed as I have learned some harsh lessons with XP. Most of my stuff is MS programs such as Office 2007, Messenger 8.5, Windows live Photo Gallery, and the like. Third party software consist of Skype which I don’t use much, Adobe Photoshop Elements 5, and software for my HP C3180 All in One which I downloaded from the website. Thats about it really. J.B.

  9. Oh, I forgot to say, My system has been in use since May 2007. Sorry about that. J.B.

  10. I just popped these in today. Incremental, but noticeable improvements in performance (especially my login time) across the board.

    As far as stability, my index is 6.79, but a lot of that is due to me dealing with a whole bevy of known flaky apps. PowerDVD XP was one of the bigger culprits, although I recently ditched that in favor of Nero ShowTime when I got a new DVD burner.

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