Here’s the scoop on projected dates:
The major updates in SP2 are said to include the following items:
Of course, there will also be the usual roll-up of patches, fixes, and security updates since SP1 became available on 3/4/2008 (RTM, we actually didn’t see it online until about three weeks later in the month). But it looks like there will actually be some useful functionality upgrades, especially for Blu-ray burners, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Flash drive file systems. Likewise, any slippage that occurs will also be interesting to follow (dates may slip out further and are much less likely to slide in closer).
The original source for this information comes from two TechARP editorials:
1. ED#107: Latest Details on Windows Vista Service Pack 2
2. ED#106: Windows Vista Service Pack 2′s Latest Release Schedule
The only preparation tools available for this exam come from a handful of e-learning offerings:
To follow one list with another, here’s a rundown on the skills measured table from the Exam Page:
It’s interesting to note that the total count for those who’ve taken this exam and earned the TS: Windows Home Integrator credential stands at a relatively miniscule 235 as of 10/27/2008. The exam went live in August, so that shows less than 100 people passing this test per month, on average. Interesting exam but perhaps not as commercially viable a focus as Microsoft might like it to be? Only time will tell, and it will be equally interesting to see if the run rate climbs, holds steady, or falls in the months ahead. I’m not sure if there are enough people working at the intersection of Windows Vista and Windows Media technologies to make this credential truly popular, but we’ll be finding out!]]>
The program comes packaged in a 6.6 MB file named WindowsVistaUpgradeAdvisor.msi, and sets itself up using the standard Windows Installer. Typical installation time is under two minutes, and the program requires Windows XP SP2 or better (it also works with Windows Vista; I checked). Other supporting software elements that must be present include .NET Framework 1.1 or newer, and MSXML 4.0 or better. Installing the program is a snap and simply demands clicking through a handful of screens to accept a EULA, selecting a target directory, then managing startup and desktop icon options.
When you install and run the program on a target machine, it will usually take at least a couple of minutes to complete. In the background the software is enumerating all devices and software on that machine, and comparing them to a database of Vista compatible (and incompatible) items. The best possible outcome for the scan is depicted in the next screenshot.
Of course, this resulted from a put-up job deliberately designed to pass with flying colors. On an older more typical desktop running Windows XP SP3 with 2 GB RAM, Sempron 3200+ CPU, and integrated graphics, the results were a bit less exhilarating: warnings showed up in all three categories that the Upgrade Advisor checks: System (the computer system itself), Device (adapter cards, drives, and other devices inside the PC), and Program (software running on the target machine). The next three screenshots illustrate each of these reports from the Upgrade Advisor.
1. Potential System Issues
2. Potential Device Issues
3. Potential Software Issues
Investigating Potential Issues
When it comes to dealing with the items reported in the Upgrade Advisor’s detail sections, it’s important to formulate a strategy for accommodating or overcoming those results. For example, if users don’t need the Vista Aero theme and its graphics razzle-dazzle, upgraded machines can be configured using Sysprep or some other image construction and deployment tool to turn off that resource-intensive capability. On the other hand, for users that need more capable graphics performance, one could replace an existing graphics adapter or (as would be the case for this test target platform) install a graphics card thereby disabling its older and less capable integrated graphics. The same type of approach generally holds true for both devices and software, with the possible exception of legacy or custom appliications that users simply must run. For such items, if all else fails, remember that you can install older Windows operating systems in Virtual Machines (VMs) running inside Windows Vista, as a next-to-last resort for keeping such items operational (the last resort is to set up a server or target machines elsewhere on the network that Vista users can remote access into).
A Grain of Salt Applies to the Upgrade Advisor’s Advice
The target XP machine on which I chose to run the Upgrade Advisor gets a suprisingly clean bill of health from the software. My own experience has been that Vista runs best on a dual-core processor or better, works best with at least 2 GB of RAM, and requires an Nvidia 7600 or AMD/ATI 2400 graphics card or better, for even minimal and acceptable use. It’s important to bear such observations in mind when pondering how to react to the Upgrade Advisor’s reports and recommendations. Otherwise, end-users may wind up with painfully slow desktop systems. Once you’ve decided on an upgrade strategy, it’s probably wise to upgrade a small group of machines, place them with a hand-picked set of at least moderately knowledgeable users, and let them try out the new gear for two to four weeks, then evaluate those results and react to them, before performing any wholesale upgrades. Otherwise, one wave of effort and expense may simply lead to another, along with a sizable group of end-users in various states of disarray and disaffection.
This the first post to a three-times-a-week blog that will tackle Windows Vista desktop issues for the enterprise environment. My primary areas of focus will include topics of interest to IT professionals work with Windows Vista on large networks. Thus, it will address topics related to setup and configuration, release definition, deployment, migration from earlier Windows desktops (primarily XP), virtualization, terminal services, and security. I hope you’ll want to contribute your own ideas, issues, and information needs in the comments you can append to these blogs, or send to me via e-mail at email@example.com.
Here’s a list of topics I already have lined up to tackle. Feel free to help me adjust, add to, or remove elements as you see fit:
Checking upgrade viability with the Vista Upgrade Advisor
Dealing with failed Microsoft Updates
Managing Vista application compatibility (general)
Using the Vista Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 5.0
Choosing compatible security software components (firewall, AV, anti-spyware, …)
Toward a more positive Vista application uninstall experience
Software as a Service (SaaS) on Vista: setup and configuration
Software as a Service (SaaS) on Vista: updates and maintenance
Software as a Service (SaaS) on Vista: uninstalls and changeovers
Vista changeover issues/Ensuring a smooth Vista transition
Working with the User State Migration tool
Vista deployment tools:
Volume Activation 2.0
Volume Activation Management Tool
Key Management Service for Windows Server
Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK)
Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM)
Working with answer files and unattended installs
Working with catalogs and Windows images
Using the Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE)
Working with ImageX
Working with the System Preparation Tool (Sysprep)
About IE8: what’s new, different, and better
About IE8: working with the preview
Desktop virtualization benefits
Understanding desktop virtualization technology: virtual machines
Understanding desktop virtualization technology: virtual networks
Understanding desktop virtualization technology: virtual devices and their interfaces
Desktop virtualization tools: VirtualPC 2007
Desktop virtualization tools: VMWare
More Desktop Virtualization tools
Terminal services and Windows Vista
VPNs and Windows Vista
Enterprise desktop endpoint security
I also plan to share troubleshooting information that my own day-to-day adventures with Vista end up teaching me (often the hard way), and to help others research and address issues they choose to raise through comments here, or e-mails to me. Hopefully, we’ll all learn a few things along the way. At the barest minimum, which I hope to exceed by a wide margin, you’ll get exposure to the wealth of material that Microsoft itself provides about Vista on TechNet and in its Help and Support pages and forums.
Thanks in advance for your interest, support, and participation. Look for my first “real blog” on Wednesday, October 2. Please also check out my Website at www.viztaview.com, where you can get a good sense of the issues and problems I’ve been chasing down with Vista myself lately as well.