Vista Service Pack 1 was delayed briefly when it was discovered that a handful of hardware device drivers occasionally kept the service pack installation from finishing correctly. New drivers were developed and Microsoft designed Windows Update so it would offer the new drivers and withhold Vista Service Pack 1 until they were installed.
I rarely find Service Pack 1 installed when I sit down to Dell computers. Something seems to be going awry with that process. When I’ve installed it manually, it has always gone smoothly and all hardware has worked perfectly afterwards. Microsoft didn’t plan to offer SP1 to all Vista users simultaneously, so perhaps it’s just being rolled out more slowly than I expected – but Service Pack 1 smooths out a lot of rough edges for Vista and I want you to have it.
If you have a Vista computer, check to see if Service Pack 1 is installed – click on Start / Computer, then click on System Properties at the top of the window. You’ll see the screen on the right – if it doesn’t specifically mention Service Pack 1, you don’t have it installed yet.
There’s more info here about Service Pack 1 and what to expect during the installation. It’s a big deal, like all service packs – go slowly.
You can download and install Service Pack 1 manually from this page. It’s daunting – it’s a 440Mb download, and there’s always the possibility that it hasn’t been offered to you through Windows Update for some good reason. Call me if you want me to take over. But frankly, I suggest you give it a try if you have time, a fast Internet connection, and a good backup. (If you’re running Vista Business and you have an extra external hard drive, use Vista’s “Windows Complete PC Backup And Restore” feature to create an image of your entire hard drive that can be used to restore everything in a single smooth operation after a catastrophe. If you have it, you won’t need it, right?)