Software

An investigation of GUI changes found in Windows Vista SP1

Greg Shultz takes a look at a few of these visible changes in Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 and explores some of the advantages and disadvantage of these changes. He also offers some comparisons between the original RTM version of the update and the SP1 version.

Many of the changes made in Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 occur behind the scenes and were designed to improve performance. As such, they may not be readily apparent unless you're actively seeking them out and using a stop watch. Many Vista users were hoping for a few, possibly dramatic, changes in the graphical user interface. However, those types of changes just weren't part of Microsoft's plan for service pack 1.

Even so, there are indeed some changes in Windows Vista SP1 that you can actually see.

In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I'll take a look at a few of these visible changes in SP1 and explore some of the advantages and disadvantage of these changes. As I do, I'll offer some comparisons between the original release to manufacturing (RTM) version of the update and the SP1 version.

This blog post is available in the PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Changes in Disk Defragmenter

Right out of the box, Windows Vista's Disk Defragmenter is automatically configured to run every week to ensure your disk is continually defragmented. As such, without any intervention from you, Disk Defragmenter will keep your hard disk in tip-top shape. Of course, you can change how often Disk Defragmenter runs and at what time of the day by altering its schedule from the Modify Schedule dialog box. In addition, you can manually defragment your hard disk any time that you want, by clicking the Defragment Now button.

Figure A shows the RTM version of Disk Defragmenter with the Modify Schedule dialog box.

Figure A

In the RTM version of Disk Defragmenter, the only control you have is over the schedule.
In order to give you more control when manually defragmenting your hard disk, the SP1 version of Disk Defragmenter also offers you the option to choose which drive you want to defragment by clicking the Select Volumes button and selecting a check box in the Advanced Options dialog box, shown in Figure B.

Figure B

In the SP1 version of Disk Defragmenter, you can choose which hard disk you want to defragment during a manual operation.

Changes in Complete PC Backup

In addition to its standard backup utility, Windows Vista comes with a hard disk imaging utility, called Complete PC Backup, which allows you to create an image file that contains the complete contents and structure of a hard disk.

However, if you are logged in with a Limited User account in the RTM version, you have no way of accessing Complete PC Backup. As you can see in Figure C, selecting Complete PC Backup on the Backup Status and Configuration page in the RTM version indicates that you have to be an administrator to run the tool.

Figure C

In the RTM version, you can't run Complete PC Backup unless you're logged on with an administrative account.
However, in the SP1 version, as shown in Figure D, you can indeed launch Complete PC Backup on the Backup Status and Configuration page from a Limited user account. However, as you can see, the Create Backup Now button has a UAC shield icon, which means that you must be able to supply an administrative password in the UAC that pops up.

Figure D

In the SP1 version, you can run Complete PC Backup as long as you know the password from an administrative account.

Changes in Creating Folders

If you've ever attempted to create a folder inside of one of Vista's System folders, you know how frustrating that simple operation can be. For example, suppose that you're using an account with administrative privileges and want to manually create a folder in the Program Files folder.

In the RTM version of Vista, you have to work through four clicks and two dialog boxes before you can actually create the folder. The procedure is illustrated in Figure E. When you right-click in the Program Files folder and select the New | Folder command, you'll first encounter the Destination Folder Access Denied dialog box and will need to click Continue. You'll then encounter a File Operation UAC and will need to click Continue again.

Figure E

In the RTM version, you need to click four times and work through two dialog boxes in order to create a new folder in the Program Files folder.
In the SP1 version of Vista, you only need to work through three clicks and one dialog box, as illustrated in Figure F. When you right-click in the Program Files folder and select the New | Folder command, you'll see a UAC icon next to the Folder command. You'll then encounter the File Operation UAC and will just need to click Continue.

Figure F

In the SP1 version, you only need to click three times and work through one dialog box in order to create a new folder in the Program Files folder.

What's your take?

Had you noticed these changes in Vista SP1 before you read this article? Have you found any other apparent UI changes in Vista SP1? Please drop by the Discussion area and let us hear from you.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

2 comments
Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Had you noticed these changes in Vista SP1 before you read this blog post? Have you found any other apparent UI changes in Vista SP1?

pwright2
pwright2

ARe you ever going to recognize that there are different versions of Vista out there? In every column you write that Vista does this or has this ... and it doesn't. At least, not my version. Just because you have Ultimate does not mean most people do. In this case the MAJORITY of Vista owners do not have Complete PC Backup. -----Paul-----