Operating Systems

Vista SP1 Cripples Some Security Applications

Just as Microsoft began grappling with a glitch in the installation of a file required for its Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) download, another Vista SP1 hiccup has bubbled up. The company has confirmed that some applications may experience “a loss of functionality when they run on a Windows Vista Service Pack 1-based computer.”

In other words, SP1 breaks a handful of programs.

“Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista is an important update for Windows Vista. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 contains many security, reliability and feature updates for Windows Vista. A program may experience a loss of functionality after you install Windows Vista SP1. However, most programs will continue to work as expected after you install Windows Vista SP1,” the company said.

Does Not Compute

Affected programs may be blocked from starting after installation of Vista SP1, as is the case with BitDefender AV or Internet Security v.10 and Trend Micro Internet Security 2008. Other programs, including Free Allegiance v.2.1 and Iron Speed Designer v.5.0.1, will not run at all following the installation.

Meanwhile, users running Vista SP1 who also use the NYT Reader from The New York Times, Rising’s Personal Firewall and ZCM Agent from Novell, will experience either minor or a degree of lost functionality.

In each case, Microsoft recommends that anyone experiencing a problem contact the software vendor, not Microsoft, or visit the vendor’s Web site to learn of any solutions.

In looking at the list of affected programs, many but not all are related to security and systems management, noted Al Gillen, an IDC analyst.

“That tells you one of a couple of things: Microsoft either tightened some setting down or they changed something. When you see things like antivirus, firewall and Internet security breaking, that seems to imply stuff that’s pretty close to the kernel,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Gillen, who spoke to Microsoft about the problem, said the loss of functionality was the result of a twofold issue — a driver problem of which Microsoft was aware and incorrectly installed applications.

“Apparently when they put SP1 in these applications that have not installed correctly [they] were broken by the service pack,” he said.

With Windows Vista, Microsoft changed the install process. This alteration caused a lot of software makers to re-architect their installers. That is why some programs are not correctly installed, contributing to the problem, Gillen explained.

Microsoft has known about the driver issue for some time and warned of possible problems in connection with Vista SP1. That problem is also associated with incorrect installations; however, it is caused by drivers that do not follow Microsoft’s guidelines for driver installation.

No Biggie?

Vista SP1, which has not been released to consumers yet, is still in a period of testing — Microsoft Developer Network users and other fairly technologically-savvy IT pros and the ones using the program. That minimizes the impact and gives Microsoft time to correct any issues that come up before the service pack goes out to the general public in April.

“So, in between now and April, these things can get resolved, and by the time the average user sees this thing downloaded onto their system, these issues will probably be resolved,” Gillen pointed out

Microsoft plans to attack the driver conflict by sending out a test prior to automatically installing Vista SP1. If it detects that the wrong driver is installed, it will not install SP1 and alert the user that there is a driver conflict, he added.

For users, both consumers and businesses, this problem is not really a big deal, Gary Chen, a Yankee Group analyst, told TechNewsWorld.

“One, it’s fairly limited in scope, just a handful of applications. Two, most of them have fixes available,” he explained.

Chen admitted that it would have been better if these issues did not exist, but added that people need to realize “the enormous feat Microsoft takes on with Windows.

“Vista is very large and complex, and they have a huge ecosystem of hardware and software that they need to work with. So given that, you have to expect a few bumps here and there, and this is a pretty small one,” he pointed out.

“Overall SP1 is high quality, and any issues it has are outweighed by the improvements it brings,” Chen concluded.

For a complete list of affected programs, click here.

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