Walt Mossberg, influential tech columnist for the Wall Street Journal, wrote this article about Windows Vista Service Pack 1. I can’t make any sense out of what’s in people’s heads these days. Here’s his overview:

“Based on my tests of Vista SP1, I believe that for most average consumers, it will likely be a nonevent, and for others it will be disappointing. Many of its benefits are aimed at corporations and power users, or are under-the-hood fixes that are hard to discern. For mainstream users, it adds no significant, visible features to Vista, and changes little or nothing about the way the operating system looks and works.

“Also, SP1 doesn’t resolve some of the most annoying flaws in Vista, including slow start-ups and reboots, and a security system that nags you too much and requires add-on anti-virus software. I guess these problems will either never be fixed fully or will have to wait for SP2. . . .

“I wouldn’t rush to grab it and I wouldn’t expect much from it.”

After that putdown, he goes on to acknowledge that Service Pack 1 includes “hundreds of small fixes and improvements, including some performance gains,” he installs it without any issues on three computers, and he describes improved startup times and wildly improved file copying speeds. This is “little or nothing”?

His complaint is that Microsoft doesn’t include antivirus software? Mossberg is a smart guy who probably stayed awake during the last ten years of Microsoft’s antitrust battles. What is he thinking? His other complaint is that his five-year-old HP printer still doesn’t work right. That’s HP’s fault, for god’s sake! It has nothing to do with Service Pack 1.

As Susan Bradley, SBS Diva, points out, it’s like seeing a movie and wondering if a critic saw a different movie, because that’s the only way to explain how different your reaction is.

So let me speak up from the trenches: I’ve only installed Vista Service Pack 1 on two computers so far, but I see immediate, significant improvements in performance and reliability. I’m not the only one. The feedback is all positive.

Here’s a more reliable overview of the changes in Vista Service Pack 1, and here’s the detailed description from Microsoft.