Microsoft's Windows 7 SP1 bundle rolls together fixes and minor features. Deployment will take careful planning to accommodate the bulky update.
The first service pack for Windows 7 is a healthy dose of security fixes and
minor updates rolled into a single installation package. The relatively large
size of Windows 7 SP1 along with the multistep installation process means that
IT managers should make plans now to minimize the productivity impact of
rolling out the update to user systems.
The Windows 7 SP1 update became available on Feb. 22 from Microsoft's developer
Websites and is also being made available via Windows Update.
One key feature of Windows 7 SP1 is the relatively large download size and
lengthy installation processes. Notes from Microsoft advise that the process
can take anywhere between 30 minutes and one hour, and this was confirmed at
eWEEK Labs on a variety of physical and virtual test systems. In tests, the
newly updated physical and virtual systems exhibited no unusual problems, and
IT managers who are deploying Windows 7 SP1 in a production environment are
advised to take only customary caution to ensure that applications work without
error when running on this latest version of Microsoft's flagship desktop
The service pack is also meant for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, which
shares a common code base with the Windows 7 desktop OS. Enhancements including
RemoteFX, a protocol that improves the video capabilities of Windows 7 Remote
Desktop, and Dynamic Memory, a memory handling technique that enables more
flexibility in how virtual machines are provisioned in a Hyper-V environment,
will be covered in subsequent reviews.
Windows 7 SP1 is a rollup of security patches, minor bug fixes along with a few
tweaks that improve features that were already present when Windows 7 first
shipped in late 2009. Nearly all these updates had been made previously
available as individual hot fixes and patches. Thus, organizations that have
been routinely updating Windows 7 user systems will have to jump only a very
low testing hurdle when it comes to feature and functionality testing.
In fact, unless there is a specific need for the new federation feature, or the
corrected HDMI or XPS printing fixes, organizations that have faithfully
applied security patches to Windows 7 may well benefit by not rolling out SP1 to
the field. The reason is simple: Windows 7 SP1 is big and it takes a while to
install. To avoid potentially large network usage and lost productivity time
while the service pack installs, IT desktop managers should, rather, adopt the
Windows 7 SP1 slipstream version as the base image for new systems and keep
previously installed Windows 7 systems on a regular diet of security and
feature patches as provided by Microsoft.
Among the enhancements in Windows 7 SP1 is new support for identity,
authentication and minor bug fixes that correct audio and printing problems.
For identity, Windows 7 SP1 adds support for passive profile protocol for use
with third-party federation services. The feature adds support for the
WS-Federation protocol and enables passive identity requesters such as Web
browsers to more easily handle subsequent identity tokens such as cookies or
custom identification mechanisms.
Other bug fixes address problems with audio and printing. Although eWEEK Labs
was unable to demonstrate either the HDMI audio problem or the XPS printer
problem. In both the original Windows 7 version and machines with Windows 7 SP
1, we were able to connect HDMI TV monitors to the systems reboot and still
have a connection to the device. I was also able to print documents that
contained a mix of portrait and landscape pages using the XPS printer driver
with no error.
This version of Windows 7 also provides more control over how some features are
implemented. For example, it is now possible to change the "Restore previous
folders at logon" function that is governed by the Folder Options Explorer
dialog. If this check box is selected, all folders are restored to their
In a nod to processor changes and improved security, Windows 7 SP1 now supports
AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions). AVX
is a 256-bit instruction set that can be used by floating point intensive
application performance. With AVX support in
Windows 7 SP1, applications can now take advantage of the new instruction set
and register extensions.
Shops that use IKEv2 authentication protocol should look for the additional
identification types that have been added to the identification field. The
minor change in this feature will likely aid organizations that have wanted to
use e-mail ID or certificate information when performing authentication tasks.