back to article Vista SP1 customers get free support

Microsoft has sought to appease frustrated Windows Vista customers by giving away free support to anyone struggling to install service pack one (SP1). A huge swathe of people has been frozen out of the upgrade until an unknown date in April, but some were able to manually download SP1 as of last week via the firm’s Windows …


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  1. Johnny FireBlade
    Gates Horns

    MS offering support for free?

    They must have made one almighty cock up! And people question why MS pessimists such as myself feel that way? Wake up, people.

  2. Andy S

    praised for this?

    they should be vilified for not offering free support in the first place.

    I have an OEM version of the software but i bought and installed it myself. does that mean i have to go to myself for support, and charge myself a fee?

  3. Andy

    all is well !

    erm, am I the only one that aint had a single problem with SP1 ???

    Vista Ultimate X64 (Didnt install any language packs though).

    Used windows update, let it download, install, perform 2 of the 3 update stages, re-boot to do the 3rd stage, then I have had absolutely no trouble at all.

    Nice to see MS is giving support free to those that need it though

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Beta Testers again

    Frankly if Microsoft will shove defective software out there and use Joe public as unwilling beta testers then its only right that they give them support.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @Andy S

    The idea of OEM is that you should not be installing it.

    It is only supposed to come preinstalled by the "Original Equipment Manufacturer".

    So in answer to your question, since you have not legally obtained that copy (whether you were sold it by a legitimate shop or not).

    If you want free software come and join the rest of the illuminated world using a *nix based system such as OS X or any Linux variant, but Ubuntu is most likely to please you after windows.

  6. Matt


    Well, I hope people have a better experience than me. Over a three month period Microsoft failed to give any help at all. First I get the "Hello my name is Sonia and your problem is important to us" rubbish, then it went from bad to worse with her telling me it was an AMD problem, repeatedly refusing to tell me what the error message meant that I sent her at the start. Then someone else took over and it all started again. All i said was, "I've downloaded the patch, but I get this error during the installation process". They kept telling me how to download and ignoring the fact that it was the installation that failed.

    I've had lots of experience with crap support, but this was the worst. In the end I gave up as I'd run out of hair to tear out!

  7. Steven Hewittt

    <Insert Title Here>

    Nope, your not the only one. The vast majority of people are having no problems at all. (We finished rolling it out to over 500+ boxes this weekend). However you are reading El Reg remember.... ;-)

    Note: the only headline is that MS is offering free online chat and email support for OEM customers. Retail customers get it free anyway.

    And to Andy (first poster): The price difference between OEM and Retail is the support contracts and packaging. Vista is £50 cheaper (roughly taking it to £50 for a copy of home premium) on OEM - meaning retail customers are paying £50 for support.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    @Andy S

    Yes, that's exactly what you need to do. You essentially ARE the OEM in your situation.

    Why do you think the price is reduced for OEM copies? A couple of reasons (by no means the only):

    1.) It's tied to that machine - so cannot be moved to another machine

    2.) The OEM assumes all support for the software

    If either of those do not suit the end user, then they're free to purchase the Full Packaged Product version, which will allow you to move to other machines, and get support from MS.

  9. Lee Sexton
    Thumb Up

    I think....

    All these problems are the 32 bit version. I uninstalled this from my laptop, far too unreliable, on my desktop dual boot vista x64 and havent had 1 crash, no problems, no problem installing and running sp1 either. Think people should get themselves this version, got to say I really like it, hated the 32bit version, thats just a joke!!!

  10. Jamie

    @Andy "All is well !"

    I think your statement "Am I the only one" is the correct answer.

    Purchased a computer with Vista Home Premium. It was not fit for purpose. Computer ran slow and would crash, removed put on XP 64bit and it runs fine.

    Next upgrade coming in about 4 weeks time will be Fedora or Suse.

    At least there people are not suprised when software they purchased works the way it should. Software will have bugs and that is an enevitable fact due to the differences in computers and the customization. The issue is that MS biggest issue is they have to much junk tied into the actual OS.

  11. Graham Wood

    @Andy S

    That's the reason it was less than half the price of the full boxed product, so yes. They do offer "free support" to the people that have bought their product from them, rather than via some "save money by not getting all of the associated stuff" scheme.

    If you want support from M$, then pay for it. If you have an OEM version, then you call your supplier for support. If that's you, then tough luck.

    I don't see any reason why Microsoft should be forced to support any of the 10+ OEM versions I've installed, since they were all done that way to save money compared to the box product.

    I'd suggest you take your OEM supplier to court for not providing the support that you asked for - suing yourself could give the rest of us a much needed smile.

  12. J

    Support, for free?

    They must be desperate indeed...

  13. Magnus

    @Andy S

    Yup, it does mean that you have to go yourself for support. The reason the OEM version is so much cheaper is that the hardware vendor is supposed to be responsible for any support you might need. Now that does mean that if you bought an OEM copy as a private individual you cannot run to MS if you have a tech or product query.

    You get what you pay for I'm afraid.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    No problems at all

    Andy, same here on Ultimate 32, Sony laptop... installed without any issues via Windows Update. It did try (and failed) to reinstall Windows Live Messenger again but that's also still working, so whatever really ;)

    I get the feeling the problems got to do with "power users" installing dodgy software or hardware?

  15. Fluffykins Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Had my first REAL play on Vista the other day.

    Yes, yes, yes, I KNOW I'm almost in the stone age but, based on first experiences, I don't think I missed much.

    Even on a fairly pokey machine it was slow.

    It was also bloated with unnecessary graphical effects - which I quicky got tired of -

    and did I mention slow?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Andy S /@Graham Wood

    So what if the copy was given to you by Microsoft; i.e. via attendance of a launch event etc?

  17. Test Man
    Thumb Down

    Re: @Andy S /@Graham Wood

    What's that got to do with anything? How it's supplied makes no difference. If you have an OEM copy, you're restricted by the OEM licence, whether or not you obtained it for free.

  18. Matthew Ellison

    Worked fine for me

    I have an OEM version of Vista Home Premium and SP1 worked fine, although it seems fairly pointless. I did a reinstall of Vista assuming that Windows Update would apply the service pack and then any subsequent fixes. However I had to install all the same fixes and patches that I had installed previously before it would let me apply SP1.

  19. Phil


    I brought the components to build my PC along with OEM of Vista Premium. There's nothing at all illegal with that, I am the system builder hence am entitled to use OEM software. Just that if I need support, I have to contact myself to obtain it :)

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Obviously there are problems

    else MS wouldn't have done this. From what I have seen it's hardware specific which is common, but it's many different bits of hardware which is not. Like a tornado it skips houses your lucky you don't have the contentious hardware if this is a video problem most folks are unable to fix or understand even what the problem is . They will get it sorted eventually I don't mind watching the agony and smiling though. I don't use windows (anymore) and I don't do upgrades unless I have done some research.

  21. Morely Dotes

    @ jeremy

    "since you have not legally obtained that copy"

    That's a serious charge, jeremy. I presume you an make it stick in a court of law. Otherwise, you are guilty of libel.

    Fact: According to the license, an OEM copy of Windows may be sold with the purchase of a motherboard, CPU, or hard drive (at least as recently as Windows XP - I wouldn't touch Vista again if you paid me to do so). Ergo, anyone who has purchased one of those items at the same time as the OEM Windows package has obtained it "legally." Until it became unprofitable to do so, I built and sold custom PCs, which makes me an "OEM" per Microsoft's license agreement.

    Furthermore, violating the license agreement is not illegal. It is a matter of civil contract law, not criminal law, and is, at worst, a tort.

    So either you are knowingly libelous, or a loud-mouthed ignorant git. Which is it.?

  22. Gordon Fecyk

    Someone forgot what "OEM agreement" means

    "they should be vilified for not offering free support in the first place."

    For as long as I can remember, OEM agreements for Windows always left the burden of support with the PC manufacturer. You agreed to that when you turned on your PC, or when you installed your OEM-licensed Windows on your custom PC, and hit the "I Agree" button.

    When you paid for a retail copy, that price always included support from Microsoft, at the very least since Windows 2000 if not earlier. The OEM pirates never tell you that in their spam; it's a big factor in why OEM licenses cost less to begin with.

    To see Microsoft picking up the tab on OEM support is pretty new... and it's not. It's called giving the customer what they want. I guess the OEMs don't know how to support it, and I'm sure MS is chastising them for it, but at least they're doing it.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SP1 put my HP laptop permanent to sleep.

    I put SP1 on my several month old HP laptop. When the HP laptop goes to sleep, it permanently goes to sleep. There is no way to waken it again. I had to pull the battery out. After several times where the HP laptop has gone permanently asleep, I removed SP1 and my permanent sleep problem goes away. I will wait next month to see if the new SP1 has the same problem.

  24. John Stag

    ...and meanwhile the XP service pack has to wait.

    Windows XP SP3 has to wait until all this is sorted out?


    This is the real difference between Microsoft and open-source - Microsoft decisions are all about politics, the end users don't matter (it's not like they're going to stop buying Windows - it comes on every new PC).

  25. Ed Ebert Jr.

    Vista SP1

    Last Thursday 3/21 I updated my Vista Home Premium notebook with SP1 ... downloaded the "fat" multi-language SP1, since that's the only version offered at the Windows Update website and installed it with NO hassles. The install takes 45+ minutes with three reboots, but I'm "happy"; although there is NOT ANY startling difference in desktop response times.

    From my vantage point, it seems that MS spent an inordinate amount of time-manpower "fixing" buggy code, etc., but NOTHING addressing the authentic PIG system response time when compared to my (so far) all time favorite OS ... W2K SR4. Now that both HD & Blu Ray DVD encryption schemes have been cracked, along with the various audio encryption(s) used there IS NO REASON for MS to perpetuate their BS OS security architecture!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For microsoft to provide FREE support for anything...

    means that there are a hell of a lot more unhappy vista campers than we might be lead to believe. And since the vast majority 64 bit users seem to be unaffected, I wonder how many of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of computers are infected with Redmond's Revenge?

  27. Sean O'Connor

    The final straw...

    After all the problems I encountered with two machines and Vista SP1 I have thrown up my hands and already wiped the laptop and installed Ubuntu. I've been wanting to for a long time, but after Vista SP1 broke outlook 2007 I had it. Microsoft wanted to charge me for support and refused to talk to me without a credit card number.

    Here it is a month later and NOW they are offering free support... To late, they already lost me as a customer...

    One question though, how is it Beryl can do the same and flashier graphic effects than Aero without the demanding hardware requirements? This machine is fast on Beryl yet dog slow with Aero...

  28. janimal

    adding misery to injury

    Support? Now that's really cruel. I tried their support recently (not Vista related), I tried their chat-bot, then turned to the phones after a pointless 1/2 hour of re-attempting all the things I had already tried, as per the script, I was told he couldn't help me.

    on to the phones...first of course you have to try to find the appropriate number depending if you are a retail customer, MDSN subscriber, Technet subscriber, volume license thingy, Microsoft Partner...etc... etc... I had to give up and just dial any number and get them to eventually put me on the right line. From that point on support has been three sets of instructions basically telling me to do the same thing that I originally tried before contacting support, followed by an e-mail telling me they'll look into it further. That was three weeks ago.

    It's still not resolved BTW so in case you lot have a better clue...

    File Transfer Manager fails to open when downloading from MSDN downloads (using IE7 of course). First there is the install activex warning followed by a VBScript error which fails to launch FTM (build 5.032). FTM install and launches fine stand alone. The apparent solution was to remove all traces of FTM, then downoad & install FTM then IE to MSDN & it should work. - nope.

    xp pro x64 & IE7 - any help much appreciated!!

  29. Herby

    Irony of the moment??

    "Under the plan customers can email a special SP1 support address or use online chat.". What happens if Vista is so broken that you can't email, or online chat?

    ...Keyboard not connected, press F1 to continue....

    Of course, you could phone for support, but you might as well have a recording when they ask the same questions over and over again (see older post).

    Good luck to all.

  30. Daniel Hall

    Get service pack one from update website??

    Get service pack one from update website??

    3 Days ago, service pack one was available to me through vista's "Windows Update" within the O/S

    Took about 45 minutes to install, and I have had zero issues so far.

    FYI the PC is an Acer T671-ME7L (c2d E6400/2gig Ram/RS600 Chipset)

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Pigs can fly...

    ... and Bill can walk on water. I never thought I would see the day Microsoft gave anything away.

  32. Bill Norrie
    Thumb Up

    Easy Solution......

    ......Dump Vista completely - stick with XP which is now a fairly stable OS - or go with Linux. Why put up with all the hassle, just to be 'up to date' by installing a bug-ridden, bloated piece of software full of eye-candy.

    Install vista on any of my PCs? NEVER!

  33. Slaine

    free support for £300

    Free Support?

    <rant on>They should be getting a full bloody refund, plus inconvenience compensation and a cast iron assurance that XP will continue to be supported until at least a decade after Redmond finally get off their self-congratulatory arses and create a reliable, stable, secure operating system. Windows 95... I'm still waiting for it to be finished.

    The average computer is now expected to have at least one hard disk of circa 300 Gigabytes, at minimum of 2 gig RAM, a rewritable DVD drive (basic model - bluray for the posh ones), 5,6,7.1 soundcard, no less than 512 meg of multilayered graphics, preferably 2 or 3 sli combined cards and a permanently active internet connection (using either modem or nix)... I don't want mega reactive antivirus, aggressive firewall, all singing wordprocessor, semi-literate narrator, useless sound recorder, visually fancy graphics hungry shite in my OS. I want a filing system, integrated drivers that enable access to all 4 gig of my RAM, a very simple media player (that I can uninstall) and a rudimentary browser that doesn't run java, adobe or shockwave. I'll add the stuff I want personally as and when I want it. Size - no need to use more than 50Mb, cost no more than £50, value - priceless... <rant off>

    Actually, in all honesty I cannot claim to have had any trouble what so ever with Microsoft's newest operating system. I am steadfastly waiting for SP2 (or 3, or 4 or whatever it takes to see suitably praising texts within "el reg") before I even consider installing it.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    No issues here....

    Intel D 2.8 and a couple of gig of ram... Oh and a 6600 nvidia.

    It runs fine for me, Vista Ultimate x86 SP1. XP's fine, it has it's bugs still, Vista's getting to the same point with SP1.

    If I remember correctly it took 1 release and 2 service packs for MS to get XP right....

    I don't get people some times, I'm not a MS lover, but I have to use it. Half of you lot see the words "Windows" or "Microsoft" and start foaming at the mouth! Get a bloody grip.

    - Gentoo/Slackware/Debian/XP/Vista User

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Get over yourselves people!

    You've got to love all the negative comments from people who've never actually used the product. Really helpful stuff, guys, thanks.


    I bought a Dell last year, just before Vista was released, so I got the Vista upgrade disk in the post a couple of months later. It sat on the shelf until this weekend, when I finally decided to upgrade the machine from XP to Vista.

    I took the "clean install" option, and the first thing I did when Vista finished installing was check Windows Update - it showed about 25 updates, but instead of installing them (SP1 wasn't one of them), I went directly to the Windows download site and downloaded the full SP1 file (about 400Meg). I started it running, and about 45 minutes later, I had a fully up to date Vista SP1 system, and Windows Update no longer showed any available updates.

    Given all the negative comment that I've read here on El Reg, I was surprised to see that task manager shows only 550Meg of RAM in use - I was wondering if I'd need to upgrade the 1G of RAM to use the system, but it looks like I'll be okay for now. (4.2 Windows Experience index on an AMD64X2 4200+, 1G RAM, ATI X1300 graphics. Gaming graphics was the weak link - the next lowest score was 4.7 for Aero).

    Given that SP1 has only been installed on peoples systems if they explicitly asked for it (Windows Update is making it available, but not pushing it out yet), you'd expect that most of the people who've installed it are at least semi-windows-literate. Judging by my own experience, the offer of free support isn't going to cost much, 'cos not many people will need it, and if they manage it right, they'll gain additional information about issues that cause problems that the automatic reporting tools aren't picking up.

  36. George

    Some good and some bad

    Installed SP1 without a problem. It has made some difference in speed, especially the startup process. Was it worth 400mb download? I would say yes, because it probably has saved me 200mb of updates.

    My only gripe is that my VPN connection does not work anymore. It is a known issue and other forums indicates that MS is working on it. It was reported to MS during the Beta testing.

    Now to support. I have tried and tried and tried again to reach MS via the web portal dedicated to Vista problems, but each and every time the web page indicates "Unknown error has occured, try again in a few minutes". Tried via telephone, but here in OZ, it is very hard to get through. Once you get through, it is a nightmare to get actual relevant information. Took me over 40 minutes to get the answer that there is no fix at this stage.

    Free support, but you get what you pay for...

  37. Slaine
    Dead Vulture

    service packs and spleen

    Ah, the bravery of comments made by anonymous cowards... I didn't go from 95 to 98 until the release of good old "second edition", I refused to install XP until after SP2 - for exactly the same reason... I refuse to pay to be a beta tester. Mind you, I have rather overlooked the fact that for once in his miserably charmed life, William Gates IIIrd has actually decided to do something for the benefit of his "subscribers" in providing a no-charge help facililty for ALL users of Vista SP1 and not just for the ones who paid a premium; maybe the problem is worse than even we prophets of doom have thus far presumed. There again, perhaps we should be considering him for a Nobel Prize... you know, services to (wo)mankind sort of thing.

    Mine's the one with an install disk rammed down it's gullet.

  38. M Howling

    MS have always offered Free Service Pack install support.

    This article is incorrect! Microsoft have always offered Free Support for the Installation of a Service Pack. Regardless of whether the original OS install was OEM or not.

    To repeat the offer is for Installation and Compatibility support only, and is not new they've always done it.

    Flame because I'm bound to get flamed for this.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Vista SP1 is great!

    I bought a Toshiba M400 last year and got the Windows Vista Express upgrade disk, but put off install it until now. Did a clean Vista Business (x32) install onto a new 320GB drive then immediately installed SP1 (downloaded direct from MS Download Center). Installation was issue free.

    The big benefit is the real dog poor software Outlook 2007 runs a good deal better with Vista. Not quite as good as Outlook 2003, but it runs much better on Vista than it does on XP.

    Just a shame the graphic system on the M400 is a little lack lusture when everything else is fairly good! Yes, Vista does need a load more resources than most, but that's the price we have to pay to get MS latest desktop baby.

    Overall, I'm now fairly impressed with Vista and how much it has improved since its launch. I agree wholeheartedly that it was a disaster for the first 9 - 12 months, but many of the big issues have been fixed and this service pack now makes it a fairly decent and stable OS. I'm glad I put it off until now as I've seen tons of issues with Vista over the last year with many of my end customers and waiting has meant that the OS is now usable without fear of every mouse click being a potential disaster!

    Toshiba M400, Intel Core2 Duo T7200 2GHz, Western Digital 320GB, 4GB DDR2, Crucial 4GB USB memory stick configured to use SpeedBoost, etc. Yip, it is a decent configuration to ensure Vista's needs are well serviced. Ensure you've got a decent system, that is free of malware and Vista SP1 installation shouldn't be a problem ;-).

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