It's been six long weeks since Microsoft locked in Vista SP1, but it's now available for download. Here's how to choose the right method for your situation.
The "luck of the Irish" held steady this week, with Microsoft (perhaps wisely) deciding to wait until the day after St. Patrick's Day to make Vista SP1 available for download. It didn't need to compete with green beverages, parties, or nerds trying to out-nerd others in completing their NCAA Men's Basketball playoff brackets.
When to Choose the Stanalone Vista SP1 Installer
Choose the standalone installer if you need to update multiple Vista installations or if you do a lot of "wipe-and-reload" experimentation.
When Windows Update Is Best
But, if it's just "me and my Vista" and you don't plan to install Vista SP1 more than once, Windows Update requires a lot less time (and disk space) to download.
And While You're Up, Get Me Some More Updates
If you opt for the standalone installer, keep in mind that it does not include updated help files. You can update Help files two ways: run Help as soon as you update to Vista SP1 and choose the option to get updated Help content, or, download updated help files separately. Use the first option if you have an always-on broadband connection. Use the second option if you're still using dial-up or have a flaky connection. Get updated 32-bit x86 help files here. 64-bit (x64) users can get them here.
One more update to keep in mind is the new Check for System Update Readiness (aka CheckSUR) utility discussed in KB947821. CheckSUR is delivered automatically by Windows Update to systems that have problems with the Windows Servicing Store, and repairs those problems. It fixes problems with files in the \Windows\Servicing\Packages and \Windows\WinSxS\Manifests folders, registry data in three registry subkeys, and 15 different errors that can take place during attempts to update Vista.
If you'd prefer to download CheckSUR and run in manually, see the KB article for links and instructions.