Ezine 189 – Windows 7 SP1
Each service pack has its own personality. Just as the children, and grandchildren in any family show different traits, so Microsoft’s service packs vary in their characteristics. Any program’s SP1 will be the most docile and easiest to install simply because you don’t have to worry about accumulating all the previous SPs as you do with SP2s and SP3s.
First born children are often the favorites, and the birth of any SP1 is traditionally the trigger for businesses to order that particular operating from their system supplier. However, don’t be premature installing a beta version of Windows SP1, my advice is to wait for delivery of the final RTM version.
Windows 7 SP1 Contents
We expect Windows service packs to contain hot-fixes and security updates, but what’s almost unprecedented about Windows 7’s SP1 is that it brings so few new features, thus there is no reward for risking introducing beta software to your computer. Actually, the fact that SP1 is so boring is a compliment to the original Windows 7 RTM version being so well tested. My cynical friend Barking Eddie turns this observation on its head and says that Windows 7 should have been called Vista SP4, and thus would have been free, which would have saved him a bundle of money.
Talking of the cost of Windows 7, all those original discounted offers seem to be drying-up, now I don’t want to act like a pressure salesman, but if you can still see a good deal on Windows 7 then now maybe a good time to buy.
For me a service pack also provides peace of mind. I don’t often check my Windows Update History, but when I did I was shocked to see that some updates failed. To be fair, it seemed that the Automatic Update Service tried again and invariably succeed in the next update cycle. My abiding thought is that SP1 will ‘roll-up’ these updates, and thus ensure that I have not missed any.
When Windows 7 SP1 arrives, probably in July, one 32-bit (X86) service pack will cover all desktop / laptop editions of Windows 7, but not embedded operating systems. Naturally, there is a separate SP1 file for 64-bit operating systems.
Summary of Windows 7 SP1
Wait for the final version of SP1, there is nothing urgent that you need from this service pack, thus why risk installing beta software? Actually, your Windows 7 will probably already have 95% of these fixes and updates. Nevertheless, when you are rebuilding a machine it’s handy to have them all in one file.
Although there is every indication that Windows 7 SP1 will be trouble-free, best practice recommends that you test on one machine before applying to a whole network. In addition, take the opportunity to check both Windows Update settings and your Restore points.
Service Pack Urban Myths
One of the most enduring myths is that applying SP1 to an evaluation copy will break the time-lock and thus give you a fully functioning version of Windows 7. Not true. This myth started in the days of Windows NT4, and even back then I did not believe that a service pack could transform an evaluation copy into a fully functioning version.
There is also the reverse of the above myth, the theory that SP1 will make pirate versions of Windows 7 unusable. There has long been a threat that Microsoft would add code to service packs that detect pirate product keys, and then cause those systems to lock until that machine gets a genuine licence.
Back with XP Microsoft flirted with such ideas to tackle software piracy, for example they introduced the Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM) and Non-Genuine State (NGS). The problem is that this also irritated people with genuine licences when things went wrong, for example internet connection problems when authenticating genuine product keys could lead to NGS. However, there is no indication of any such anti-piracy tricks in Windows 7 SP1.
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