No, this piece isn't about some magical new free software (I only do those on Fridays :), or removing the 'bloat' that manufacturers load on to your hard drive.
It's about Vista SP1 and why it's time for you to take another look at your computer.
Back in August, I wrote this piece describing some frustration with, what I thought was, a GREAT deal on a laptop .... until I found out it maxed out at 2 GB and Vista was slow! I went on to describe how I got past the RAM block, and Rick R from Microsoft was good enough to chime in, in the comments.
Well, Rick. You weren't kidding.
In my spare time (????), I wandered over to the OEM's site yesterday. There were not only FIVE firmware upgrades since the last one, but also new drivers, and they were all specific to Vista SP1.
(Note to non-techies: Flashing a bios can be (VERY) hazardous to your computers health).
Admittedly (and somewhat strangely), the downloads weren't on the US site. They were on the manufacturer's Euro site. (Not entirely unusual for this OEM ... and a few others on their Taiwan websites).
I quickly loaded up Belarc and FreshDiagnose to see which goodies were in the box then proceeded with the bios firmware and 4 software upgrades, one at a time, re-booting each time.
(I hold my breath anytime I do firmware. This one was perfect!)
Results: Graphics rendering faster. Internet throughput faster. More options in the bios. ReadyBoost 'seems' to work even better. Better benchmarks ACROSS the board, and, with absolutely no changes in start-up programs, less CPU and Memory overhead.
Manufacturers and integral parts makers are issuing drivers all the time. Vista has been (admittedly) slow in getting to the 'best of' level.
Software upgrades are issued pretty often too, usually free. Have you checked yours?
Sidenote: It's usually much easier to find new firmware and drivers for newer hardware. Be VERY cautious with any of the third-party sites. More than half are ridden with malware. Either use Microsoft or the OEM's site if at all possible!
What I found interesting was that ALL of these were Vista Service Pack 1 specific.
The best part is ... they worked!
So to Rick R in the Microsoft Windows Vista Outreach Team. Nice job.