Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Offers Better Compatibility

Thanks to the evolving nature of Microsoft’s online software updating systems, today’s Windows users can take advantage of ever-improving software and hardware compatibility. Instead of being stuck with whatever drivers and software-compatibility support that came in the box, Windows Vista users benefit from ongoing compatibility fixes that appear on Windows Update and are delivered automatically to users who need them. For users who purchase Windows Vista now that Service Pack 1 (SP1) is out, the situation is even better: All the updates that have shipped since Vista first appeared are included in this upgrade.

Antivirus is an obvious area where Windows Vista lagged behind at launch, though one might also make the argument that AV vendors were at fault. After all, they knew Vista was coming for years before it shipped. Regardless, within six months of Vista’s release, all five major AV vendors had Windows Vista–compatible products on the market, compared to just three of five when Vista became generally available.

When trying to determine the success of Windows Vista’s compatibility, consider the numbers. At the time of Vista’s general availability in January 2007, over 1.5 million devices were Vista compatible. Less than a year later, it was over 2 million. Microsoft says that this figure represented about 96 percent of the devices on the market at the time. The company also notes that it was more ready with ecosystem coverage—that is, application and device support—with Vista than it was with any previous OS release, Today, Vista’s compatibility with current hardware is closing in on an impressive 100 percent.

Thanks to instrumentation that Microsoft added to Windows Vista, customers can optionally provide the company with feedback when things go wrong, as part of the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program. This feedback has enabled the company to make fixes available at an unprecedented rate. More important, Microsoft is identifying the issues that are causing the most problems and fixing those first. Of the remaining 4 percent of incompatible devices, or about 70,000 devices, that existed at the start of 2008, 4,000 account for about 80 percent of the problems. Guess which ones Microsoft focused on first?

Microsoft tells me it will fix or create drivers for any device that generates 500 or more user reports, which further demonstrates the need to participate in the Customer Experience program. The only exception, of course, is drivers for devices that are no longer sold because the company that made them went out of business. Such devices will likely never be made compatible with Vista. As of the release of Service Pack 1, over 15,000 hardware devices have received the Certified for Windows Vista logo, a program aimed at helping consumers find Vista-compatible products. (This, by the way, explains the absence of a Hardware Compatibility List [HCL] these days.) Those looking for a seamless installation experience will be pleased to learn that the number of device drivers on Windows Update was up from about 13,000 at launch to over 54,000 with SP1, in addition to the 20,000 that ship on the Vista setup DVD.

How about software? Whereas the initially shipped version of Windows Vista supported about 250 logoed applications—that is, applications that were certified to be 100 percent compatible with Vista—as of the release of SP1, that number exceeded 2,500, over 10 times the original number. With SP1, 98 of the 100 top-selling applications at the time were compatible with Vista, while 46 of the top 50 online downloads were also Vista compatible.

Finally, Windows Vista SP1 also includes fixes for numerous incompatible enterprise applications that were deployment blockers during Vista’s first year on the market. More specifically, Microsoft and its partners remediated over 150 enterprise application blockers, applications that previously prevented one or more corporations from upgrading to Vista.

Source of information : Wiley Windows Vista Secrets SP1 Edition

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