The long-awaited Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) is available for download – but it could come at a hefty cost to South African online users who may find their systems tied up for longer than expected, and their broadband caps threatened. 

According to Microsoft, the download is about 65Mb when delivered over Windows Update. It will be included with all Windows Vista products on store shelves as soon as April.

The 65Mb download is daunting enough for bandwidth-constrained South African users, but an attempt to download SP1 from Microsoft's download site reveals that it is a massive 434,5Mb – and warns users to expect to wait 17 hours and 40 minutes if they've got a dial-up connection, or 3 hours and 52 minutes with an ADSL line.

If users want the 65Mb file, they'll have to wait until it's available via Windows Updates in April.

It could be worth the wait, however. Microsoft SA's Colin Erasmus promises a fix-rich release that will further improve the Windows Vista experience.

Drawing strongly on work from Microsoft’s hardware and software partners, SP1 brings improvements that address many key pieces of customer feedback, especially in the areas of performance and reliability.  SP1 will bring enhanced value to customers in terms of security, performance, reliability and application compatibility, says Erasmus.  

For the consumer, there’s never been a better time to look at Windows Vista,” says Erasmus. “The capabilities that make Vista great are still there, but now, about a year out we can look back and see significant improvements in application, hardware, and device compatibility.  SP1 also brings a number of changes that continue to improve the Windows Vista experience.”

In addition to previously released updates, SP1 will contain enhancements focused on addressing reliability and performance, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards.  SP1 will make it easier for IT administrators to deploy and manage Windows Vista.

SP1 will improve general responsiveness, and according to Erasmus, the improvements in SP1 primarily target the key scenarios “where we can really make a difference in the customer experience.

Windows Vista SP1 does not change the way Windows Vista looks, or require you to learn anything new,” says Erasmus. “It simply makes Windows Vista-based PCs more secure and reliable, run more smoothly, and even more enjoyable to use.”