Nonsecurity Vista Updates Released

Microsoft plans to release three nonsecurity updates to Windows Vista today, which will coincide with its Patch Tuesday release.

"We do this so that customers need not wait for a service pack or another or larger release to benefit from the ongoing improvements we make to Windows," wrote Nick White, Vista product manager, in a blog post.

The first and most vital of the three updates is said to bring better "compatibility, stability and reliability" to Vista.

Microsoft said the update will extend battery life for peripherals, including mobile devices working in concert with the OS. It will also improve the operation of laptop and desktop computers that use UPS, increase the start-up speed for Vista and enhance the stability of wireless network services vital to Vista. The update also shortens recovery time after shutdowns or periods of idleness.

Redmond claims this update also addresses "compatibility issues that affect some third-party antivirus software applications," as well as shoring up Vista's integrity in relation to network driver configurations.

There's no indication yet, though, as to whether the update is either related to, or would alleviate, recent problems with Windows Automatic Update.

Complaints arose last month when some users discovered that their machines had rebooted overnight after installing updates automatically, causing some to lose critical application data. Further, the users reported that the Windows Update configuration had somehow reverted to the "install automatically" setting.

Neither White's blog entry nor Microsoft spokespeople specified how or if the update is indeed part of its efforts to stave off such snafus in the future.

Meanwhile, the second cumulative update pertains to improving USB core components, and by extension, the process of hot-swapping devices hooked up to USB ports. Microsoft says the update will affect systems returning from sleep or hibernation and fix the issues responsible for two percent of all Vista system crashes.

The USB is designed to utilize a single interface socket for device plug-and-play without shutting the system down. The update would eliminate complications after restarts where device configurations are inadvertently uninstalled or fail to work after a reboot.

The last update, while not essential to IT pros, will improve a video gamer's experience with X-Box 360 via an update for Windows Media Center. According to the blog entry, the update beefs up interaction between Media Center PC and Microsoft Xbox 360 when Xbox 360 is used as a Media Center Extender.

Some wonder what impact the updates will have.

"The three updates are all rather passe. The first one (KB941649) will help with some stability and performance issues. However, we won't see the major performance and stability items until Service Pack 1 is released for Vista," said Eric Schultze, chief technology officer of St. Paul, Minn.-based Shavlik Technologies Inc. "Perhaps this is their 'testing' period -- they don't want to release it to everyone via Windows Update until it's been downloaded thousands of times and executed without major problems."

Redmond expects that all the updates will be available beginning on Tuesday morning. The updates will also be rolled into SP1, according to the blog entry. The service pack is due early next year.

About the Author

Jabulani Leffall is a business consultant and an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others. He consulted for Deloitte & Touche LLP and was a business and world affairs commentator on ABC and CNN.