Apparently, Microsoft released the public version of the first service pack for Windows Vista about two weeks ago (it seems a beta was initially released in August or September of last year). Although I have my computer set to automatically check for and install updates every night, my box, for some reason, did not pick this one up on its own.
Instead, when I came home from work the other day, I found that my computer had “recovered from an unexpected shutdown”. When I clicked on the link to check for solutions, I was informed that the problem should be fixed with Vista Service Pack 1.
For those of you running Vista, if you have not yet installed Service Pack 1, you might want to go ahead and do so. However, I would review the “Things to know about Windows Vista Service Pack 1” before actually installing it.
I’m not sure what problems are addressed in this release, nor is it easy to find out. However, from what I’ve been able to ascertain, the dreaded “COM Surrogate” error was not addressed, as Microsoft still does not officially recognize it as an issue. They consistently blame everyone else involved in developing software for Vista, rather than conceding that, since the problem is so widespread, it might actually be a problem with the operating system, itself.
For those of you that don’t know, the “COM Surrogate” error is a problem related to the way Windows Vista renders thumbnails of your media files. In many cases, if you try to view a folder that contains movie files, Windows Explorer will crash and then try to restart. If you allow it to restart fully, it will begin a vicious cycle of crashing and attempting to restart again. The same applies to Windows Media Center, unfortunately.
From what I’ve been able to find, the problem is generally related to incomplete movie downloads, and Microsoft usually seems to take the official stance that the problem is related to specific video codecs.
The only reliable fix, as of yet, is to disable the rendering of thumbnails on your entire computer.