Microsoft Vista SP1 - more than you were bargaining for

Initially I was pleased to hear that Vista SP (Service Pack) 1 was being lined up for a Q1 2008 release, but now I've had a chance to review its growing range of `features,' I'm not so sure.

It seems that, far from making the Vista user experience better, Microsoft is adding to Vista's processor workload by enhancing its WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) technology with SP1

The good news is that, with SP1 installed, the PC no longer goes into limited functionality mode if a user or administrator fails to activate the operating system within 30 days, or fails the WGA test.

In limited functionality mode, a PC shuts down after 60 minutes and only allows Internet browser access to the Web. Under the `improved' WGA/30-day activation feature, users will see a black screen and a box that allows punters to activate Vista now or

later.

If users choose to activate Vista later, then Windows will start up, but with a black screen in the background.

The good news is that you can customise the background to your normal picture, but after 60 seconds, the box pops up again, and converts the background to black. Again.

But wait - there's more - Vista SP1 includes a facility for the operating system to auto-notify Microsoft in the event that a counterfeit application is installed, advising Microsoft's technical team how the WGA feature has been disabled.

The gameplan is for Microsoft to issue patches to stop WGA being by- passed using new techniques. Myself, I think what Microsoft is doing is far too draconian and smacks of Big Brother.

That's George Orwell's 1984, by the way, not the voyeuristic pap that's on Channel 4 late at night...