The release candidate of Vista SP1wasreleased to the general public just a few days ago, and many fans are still in the process of downloading and installing it on their systems. As expected, there areplenty of bug fixes and general improvements bundled into Vista SP1, butseveral interesting features have been lost in the shuffle. One such feature is the enabling of support for what Microsoft terms "hotpatching".
Hotpatching is a process in which Windows components are updated while still in use by a running process. As you can imagine, this handy feature eliminates the need to reboot, maximizing system uptime and minimizing user headaches. According to Microsoft, hotpatch-enabled update packages are installed in a similar manner to standard update packages. The company's description of the feature seems to suggest that this ability is inherent to Vista, but was previously disabled or incomplete.
Hotpatching is something that system administrators will love when faced with a slate of PCs in need of reformatting and restoration to a usable state.Not everyone has the capability or the inclination to create a custom slipstreamed image, and we know that the number of reboots required to get a basic Windows system properly patched up with some productivity software can be frustrating at times.
There are a host of other improvements with SP1, all of which should also help make your Windows Update experience more rock-solid than it already is:
Improved patch deployment by retrying failed updates in cases where multiple updates are pending and the failure of one update causes other updates to fail as well. Optimizing OS installers so that they are run only when required during patch installation. Having fewer installers operating results in a more robust and reliable installation. Improves robustness during the patch installation by being resilient to transient errors such as sharing violations or access violations. Improves robustness of transient failures during the disk cleanup of old OS files after install. Improves overall install time for updates by optimizing the query for installed OS updates. Improves the uninstallation experience for OS updates by improving the uninstallation routines in custom OS installation code. Improves reliability of OS updates by making them more resilient to unexpected interruptions, such as power failure.
TechNet has a handy list of the notable changes in the SP1 release candidate if you're looking for more dirt on what Vista SP1 will bring to the table.