SP1 for Windows 7 delivers critical security updates and improves performance.
For those of you rocking Windows 7 -- likely the majority reading this -- Microsoft wants you running Service Pack 1 (SP1), so beginning today it will roll out automatically on Windows Update, the software giant announced in a blog post. You can avoid SP1 by disabling automatic updates, but unless you have a very specific reason to do so, you might as well upgrade, if you haven't already. SP1 contains several security patches, bug fixes, and performance tweaks to keep Windows 7 operating at peak form.
Tweaks We Expect (And Hope) To See From Windows 8 Service Pack 1
Alright, haters. Judging by many of the comments left on this week’s “Week of Windows 8” posts, a number of you aren’t huge fans of Windows 8. In fact, some of you hate it so much, the very mention of the words “Windows” and “eight” in the same sentence – unless it’s a story about “Eight ways to not install Windows 8” or something like that — sets you into a frenzy.
While we haven't run into issues ourselves, there has been a spattering of complaints online about systems being borked after installing Windows 7's first Service Pack. Microsoft acknowledged the problem via a Knowledge Base article (975484), in which the Redmond software giant says your computer may freeze or restart to a black screen with error message 0xc0000034 after applying SP1. Hit the jump to find out what you can do.
The wait is over, folks. If you're not a TechNet subscriber and/or wanted no part of playing around with a non-final release of Service Pack 1 for Windows 7, then today's your day. Microsoft today made good on its promise to deliver SP1 to the general public on February 22, though there's a few things you should know before you go out and grab it.
In a blog post on Wednesday, Micheal Kleef, Senior Technical Product Manager with the Windows Server and Cloud division, announced the Release of Manufacturing (RTM) of both Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 and Windows 7 SP1. That means the wait for general availability is almost over, and in fact you can expect Microsoft to make SP1 available on Tuesday, February 22. Windows 7 is a much more polished OS out of the box than Vista was, so should you even care?
Microsoft announced Monday that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is available in public beta form. While desktop Windows 7 is looking mainly like a rollup of hotfixes, the update for Server 2008 R2 is more substantive. Server will be getting the new RemoteFX feature which will provide higher quality 3D accelerated graphics for remote users. Server 2008 R2 is also seeing dynamic memory support added.
A copy of SP1 leaked online back and April and is rumored to have USB 3.0 support and an updated Bluetooth/Wi-Fi stack. None of this has been confirmed yet, but the update isn't final yet. To try the new service pack, you have to pretend to be either a developer, or an IT professional. You'll also need a final copy of Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2. Download it here. Let us know if you give it a shot.
Come late July, Microsoft will release the first Service Pack for Windows 7, the Redmond outfit announced in a blog post on Monday. However, don't expect any major performance enhancements, as was the case when the first Service Pack for Vista significantly improved the overall OS experience.
"While the new features for Windows Server 2008 R2 benefit Windows 7 by providing a richer VDI experience, SP1 will not contain any new features that are specific to Windows 7 itself," Microsoft wrote. "For Windows 7, SP1 will simply be the combination of updates already available through Windows Update and additional hotfixes based on feedback by our customers and partners. In other words, customers can feel confident about deploying Windows 7 now!"
Microsoft said that it has already sold over 100 million license of Windows 7, which is in line with most analysts' figures. And following SP1, Microsoft will likely see a spike in sales, as some businesses often wait for the first Service Pack to debut before migrating to a new OS.
We're not sure why anyone would choose to kick it with Vista, but if you absolutely refuse to step up to Windows 7, you're going to want to make sure you've installed one of the available Service Packs. As of yesterday, Microsoft cut off support for unpatched copies of Vista, putting the original OS out to pasture.
"Under the former service pack support policy, when a service pack reached the end of support, customers were no longer eligible to receive troubleshooting help from Microsoft Customer Service and Support, including assisted telephone support, security updates, or non-security hotfixes," Microsoft said in a blog post.
In the same blog post, Microsoft also announced that it has updated its Service Pack Support policy to provide customers with limited troubleshooting on unsupported service pack versions. This "limited troubleshooting" includes:
Break/fix support incidents will be provided through Microsoft Customer Service and Support; and through Microsoft’s managed support offerings (such as Premier Support).
There will be no option to engage Microsoft’s product development resources, and technical workarounds may be limited or not available.
If the support incident requires escalation to development for further guidance, requires a hotfix, or requires a security update, customers will be asked to upgrade to a supported service pack.
On a side note, Microsoft isn't pulling the plug for support on Windows XP SP2 or all versions of Windows 2000 until July.
Tech site GeekSmack.net claims to have obtained a beta release of Microsoft's upcoming Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and has posted the first screenshots of the build.
While we don't recommend it, for those of you who want to go gallivanting around the web looking for the same beta, GeekSmack says the full build string is 6.1.7601.16537.amd64fre.win7.100327-0053.
"The install process is much of what you would expect from a service pack installer, but one thing I noticed is that the installation is MUCH faster than the install process for service packs on Vista was, which is a very welcome change," TechSmack noted.
There are a bunch of screenshots to gawk at, including a few from after the service pack was applied. Looks legit, and falls in line with Microsoft recently announcing that service packs for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 were forthcoming. According to Microsoft, SP1 for Windows 7 would mostly contain "minor updates."
If you're holding out on upgrading to Windows 7 until the first Service Pack sees the light of day, you may want to reconsider. Windows 7 SP1 won't usher in huge, sweeping changes like some of the Service Packs we've seen for other Windows OSes, and instead will introduce small changes, Microsoft said.
"For Windows 7, SP1 includes only minor updates, among which are previous updates that are already delivered through Windows Update," Brandon LeBlanc, a Windows Communications Manager at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. "SP1 for Windows 7 will, however, deliver an updated Remote Desktop client that takes advantage of RemoteFX introduced in the server-side with SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2."
LeBlanc went on to emphasize that Windows 7 is ready for commercial deployment now and that many industry experts recommend against waiting for SP1.
"So don't wait -- go ahead and deploy...you know you want to!," LeBlanc added.
Microsoft has not yet announced a beta or release timeline for SP1 for Windows 7.