Skip to content

Is Vista Service Pack 1 good for Office?

Vista Service Pack 1 is now available to all but is it worthwhile for anyone using Microsoft Office on Vista?

Vista Service Pack 1 is now available to all (see links below) but is it worthwhile for anyone using Microsoft Office on Vista?

The answer is an absolute YES – no doubt about it.

But Microsoft deserves absolutely NO credit or praise for Service Pack 1. It contains many fixes for problems that should never have been allowed in the original product, let alone remain unrepaired for more than a year.

The file copying bug is the most commonly discussed issue that’s fixed in SP1. File copying in Vista, especially across network shares, was unforgivably slow. Depending on who you talk to, file copying caused memory leaks that would eventually demand a reboot of the computer.

For Outlook 2007 and Onenote 2007 users the most obvious problem with Vista was the broken Windows Search feature. Office 2007 relies on the ‘Windows Search’ service in Vista to index documents, notebooks and emails for the ‘instant’ search features in Outlook and OneNote. That feature worked fine in Microsoft demos but often fell over in the real world.

For the past year we’ve regularly received complaints that Outlook 2007 search has stopped working or can’t find items that are in the Outlook data store. This isn’t Outlook’s fault, it’s the Windows Search service in Vista. The service simply stopped indexing, with no notice, when there were too many items to be indexed. Microsoft staff dismiss the failure of Windows Search as the fault of the customer for having ‘too many’ documents and items. The conveniently flexible definition of ‘too many’ wasn’t realistic for people who make fulsome use of Office.

We’ve been using Vista SP1 for several months and can happily report that the Windows Search will now index gigabytes of documents and Outlook items reliably – as it should have from the start.

For this reason alone, Vista users should upgrade to Service Pack 1.

That’s not to say that Windows Search is anywhere near to being an acceptable desktop search feature. It doesn’t index entire documents, only the opening pages, which is an important omission. You can Pause indexing but you have to remember to restart it later (a ‘snooze’ option would be preferable). There’s no option to force indexing to a higher priority, it can only happen at the leisurely ‘background’ pace dictated by Microsoft.

By all means get Vista Service Pack 1 but don’t expect anything more than the operating system Microsoft promised when Vista was first forced upon the public.

Geeks and power Office users now have an intriguing alternative to Windows Vista which uses the same core technologies but without the overhead and hassles … Windows Server 2008 converted into a workstation.

Getting Vista Service Pack 1

Most people will get Vista Service Pack 1 automatically as part of Windows Update. In some cases specific driver updates need to be selected and installed before SP1 will be available (ie there are driver updates as prerequisites before SP1 is installed).

Service Pack 1 is downloaded by Windows Update but not installed until you explicitly approve. Keep in mind that the SP1 update can take an hour or so to do its thing.

At the time of writing SP1 was not showing as a separate download from Microsoft’s download site.  When it becomes available it will be a 450MB download.  According to Microsoft the Windows Update selective download is only 65MB.

However there is a document detailing the SP1 ‘release notes‘. At the moment the only major note is the removal of the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) from SP1.

About this author