There are updates to Windows Vista that improve its performance and reliability. The improvements make a top-notch operating system even better. So why is there a strong impression that Windows Vista is in trouble?

When I talk to people planning to buy a new computer, there’s no perceptible excitement about Vista. People don’t see any advantage, they just feel fearful about losing the tried and true Windows XP environment. It’s true that Vista doesn’t introduce any groundbreaking new features that revolutionize people’s computing lives; its improvements are incremental and many of them are security-oriented, under the hood and not always easy to explain.

I strongly recommend Vista to anyone buying a new computer, after enough research to be sure that it will run any specialized programs that may not be Vista-ready. It’s mature, dependable, and has genuine improvements in many areas.

But I understand people’s reluctance. There’s a relentless flood of stories about flagging sales, bugs and performance problems, continuing demand for Windows XP, DRM-related slowdowns, and the superstitious desire to wait until the first service pack is issued. Tech writers proudly proclaim their disdain for Vista. Many of the stories are exaggerated or untrue or distorted or apocryphal, but the cumulative effect is the perception that Vista should be avoided.

Microsoft has started to test the first service pack for Vista, which will be available early next year, and perhaps that will be the opportunity to turn this perception around. Here’s a description of Vista Service Pack 1.

The service pack will package up bug fixes and compatibility updates that will already have been installed on most Vista computers. In August Microsoft released two big collections of performance and reliability fixes which were installed on Vista computers through Windows Update. This week, Microsoft released four more wide-ranging patches which again will be installed automatically on your Vista computers soon.

Here’s a description of the four update packages. They improve startup time, extend battery life on laptops, enhance Vista’s sleep and hibernate capabilities, fix various Media Center problems, and many other things. They can be installed manually from the links in the article, if you choose.

Vista will be with us for years to come, and it’s getting more solid with these updates. Let’s put the Windows XP mindset behind us!

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