The tech helper: What you need to know about Windows 7 SP1 (Feature)
By Jay Dougherty Feb 22, 2011, 2:06 GMT
Washington - For those waiting to upgrade to Windows 7 until after the first 'service pack' (SP1) is released, the wait is almost over. Microsoft recently unveiled the release candidate of SP1, making it available for download, and the final release of SP1 is expected to be released soon.
So what can you expect from SP1, and should you run out and install the release candidate now? Read on for some answers.
Q: How can I get SP1?
A: If you want to wait until the final release of SP1 later this month, you can simply get the service pack through the Windows Update feature. If you'd like to download the SP1 release candidate, available now, go to http://on-msn.com/dDzWyG.
Q: Is the release candidate of SP1 stable?
A: It is likely very stable because Microsoft has already made available to its Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers the full release of SP1 integrated into Windows 7 and Windows Server 2001 R2. In other words, Microsoft has already released the official SP1 to selected customers.
Q: What's new in Windows 7 SP1?
A: The 'features' in Service Pack 1 of Windows 7 can be broken down into two categories: bug fixes and optimisations.
Service Pack 1 rolls up all of the 'hotfixes,' security patches, and other updates released for Windows 7 up to now. There are well over 700 individual fixes listed in the Hotfixes and Security spreadsheet (http://on-msn.com/f1ItCB) that Microsoft has made available to document the changes in this release, although some of the fixes are specific to Windows Server 2008 R2, since the SP1 of that operating system is being released concurrently.
Even if you haven't experienced identifiable problems with Windows 7, a host of performance-sapping bugs have been zapped in SP1. These include seemingly unexplainable system delays, compatibility woes when using the 64-bit version of Windows 7, freezes with Windows Media Player, poor printing performance, erroneous 'low battery' messages on laptops, poor file writing and copying performance, Internet Explorer 8 crashes, reduced network performance, and erratic Bluetooth connectivity.
In the 'new features' category, there's not much to get excited about in SP1. The Remote Desktop applet of Windows 7 has been updated to coincide with some improvements to Windows Server 2008's virtualisation features. But otherwise, the main reason you'll want SP1 is to obtain better performance and stability.
Q: I bought the full version of Windows 7 some time ago. Can I get a version with SP1 integrated so that I don't have to download it?
A: Probably not. Microsoft generally will not re-issue you a DVD with SP1 integrated into Windows 7. You'll need to acquire the update through Windows Update or download it as a file and apply it offline. If you intend to purchase Windows 7 in the next few months, however, it does make sense to look out for retail copies with SP1 already integrated. Installing the SP1 version of the operating system will save you download time later on.
Q: If I install the release candidate, can I install the final service pack later?
A: Yes. The installation of the final service pack can be done entirely through Windows Update, and the update service will take care of upgrading the release candidate to the final service pack.
Q: My Windows 7 computer is running fine, and I see no reason to install a service pack. Can I prevent the service pack from installing automatically?
A: Yes. Microsoft has released a 'service pack blocker tool kit' that essentially does what its name implies: prevents the service pack from being installed automatically through Windows Update. The blocking tool will be effective for 12 months from the date of the service pack's release.
Q: Can I download the service pack directly rather than installing it through Windows Update? I prefer to have the full file available for updating my computer.
A: Yes. The full installation file will be available from the Microsoft Download Center when the final SP1 is released, probably next week. The release candidate service pack is now available here: http://on-msn.com/dDzWyG.
Q: Is Internet Explorer 9 a part of Windows 7 RC1?
A: No. Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), however, has now been moved from 'beta' to 'release candidate,' meaning that its official unveiling is imminent. You can get the release candidate of IE9 from the Internet Explorer Test Drive site (http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive). The final release of IE9 should also be available via Windows Update.
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