I had been waiting for this release with enthusiasm hoping it would drastically improve the performance of my system, however, it is a disappointment.
The 424MB download the largest service pack for a MS OS takes about 1.5 hours to install in passive mode. Whereby, the OS shuts down (not the system) installs over writing files and adding new in three stages restarting thrice.
Unlike previous service packs whereby the installation runs actively on your desktop and you can play minesweeper or solitaire to pass time. On the other hand, XP SP3 beta took half the time and prompted a restart only upon completion.
The boot time remains the same, copying files from one partition to another is now full speed, one of the promised fixes. Defrag has been improved, it now by default does not defrag all your partitions and lets you choose, the defrag times have also improved.
One of the fixes includes improving network transfer file speeds. The first day I tried took hook my laptop to my XP system via a direct network cable took a hair pulling 3 hours and I could still not create a work group. Vista could see the XP system and not vice versa, the network control panel is complicated, the XP SOHO wizard is gone and what is present is a wireless wizard. Transfer times were pathetic, showing hours for transferring a GB, XP to XP does it minutes.
Surprisingly, Microsoft claims that Vista is the fastest selling OS in history. With more than 100 million licenses sold and growing! Every new system ships with Vista, do you have a choice? Manufacturers don’t provide XP drivers for your system components, as I visited my model page on HP and found out the drivers there were for Vista only. So they know what’s best for us.
You can get a list of improvements here.