It seems as if Service Pack SP1 for Windows Vista won’t be able to accelerate Vista adoption. My article about Vista SP1 troubles is meanwhile among the top 10 here on 4sysops. Most of the readers are coming from Google searching for help. Guess they didn’t read my warning. The fact that Microsoft offers now a toll-free hotline for customers having problems with Vista SP1 is another hint that this service pack is a bit problematic. This post gives some tips of how to deal with SP1 problems.
1 Try to make sure the problem is really related to Vista SP1 ^
If your problems occurred immediately after you installed SP1 the probability is very high that you just successfully messed up your system. However, even then SP1 might not be the real culprit. It seems to me that many of the problems are related to sloppy programmed drivers or applications. So the first thing to check is the third party vendor’s site to see if your problem is known there. Maybe you are lucky and there is already an update. If there isn’t, I would try to uninstall the failing driver or program and install it again.
2 Search in Microsoft’s Knowledge Base ^
Some problems are already confirmed and Microsoft posted solutions or workarounds for them. My article about Vista SP1 issues lists some of them. Meanwhile, the search for Vista Service Pack1 gets 75 hits. But since SP1 is relatively new, I wouldn’t spend too much time there. The Knowledge Base is a great place to search for issues with products that are already available for some time.
3 Search in the Vista SP1 Technet Forum ^
The next place to go is Microsoft’s Technet Forum. There is a forum dedicated for Vista SP1. You’ll see that you’re not the only one who regrets to be an early adopter. A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved. Before you ask your question, you should search for your problem there. Sometimes a search via Google is more successful than using Technet’s search function. To use Google to search in the Technet forums you can limit your search with site:forums.microsoft.com.
4 Get support from Microsoft ^
There are three ways to get direct support from Microsoft: via E-Mail, chat and phone. The Vista SP1 support page has more details. I guess the toll-free number only works for calls within the US though. It is not the first time that Microsoft offered this kind of support for a service pack. You probably remember that SP2 for Windows XP caused even more problems than Vista SP1. Microsoft’s Satisfy Me blog (what a promising name for a blog) has some tips of how to deal with the operators.
5 Uninstall Vista SP1 ^
I am sorry to hear that you didn’t solve your problem. I guess you only want to get rid of Vista SP1 by now. There are several ways to uninstall Service Pack 1. If your problems occurred immediately after the update, you might just want to restore the image of your system drive you created before the update. You didn’t make a backup? I admire your confidence in Microsoft!
Uninstalling SP1 is another option. You can do that via the Control Panel. Note that this might not solve your problem if SP1 damaged the installation of third party software.
Yet another option is to roll back your system using Vista’s System Restore feature. Technically, this is the most complicated option and that means that other things can go wrong here. The last two options are described in detail in this KB article. Gregg Keizer from Computerworld posted a useful FAQ of how to dump Vista SP1.
Which option is best for you depends on your problem and your skills. If there are only minor problems I would just uninstall SP1. If this doesn’t solve your problem then I would restore a backup or use the System Restore feature. If you trust in your backup method, I wouldn’t waste time with the other two options and restore the backup image. This way, you can be sure that your system is exactly in the state prior to SP1. If you created your image with Vista’s backup tool you might want to try first if the backup was successful by mounting it in Virtual PC.