Windows Vista SP1 lacks "wow." Missing are enticements such as a new version of Internet Explorer, which Microsoft provided in Windows XP SP1 back in 2004, or some other must-have feature. This time it's just a rollup of past security patches and enhancements to existing code. Yawn. That said, it's still worth having. At present only 12,000 beta testers have the code. General release is expected in the first quarter of 2008.
Windows Vista users with automatic updates turned on will have a shorter installation process than those without the updates. For our test machine, we installed a new version of Windows Vista, then let the SP1 process do the updating for us. In total, the upgrade process took us about two hours, using a CD provided by Microsoft.
Our test machine included previous installs of Windows Vista in the test partition. The upgrade wizard flagged the lack of disk space and required us to delete files to make the required 5 gigabytes of space necessary to continue with the upgrade.
After installing the upgrade, Microsoft includes two additional upgrades that are optional. On our Windows Vista Ultimate system, we needed to install Hold Em Poker game plus BitLocker and EFS enhancements. The download and install here took another five minutes.