This week saw the general release of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and yes, as non events go, it’s right up their with buying car insurance or watching Arsenal. As I work in IT, at times like this that I tend to get lots of questions from people wanting to know if they should install or not and what are the benefits. So, here’s a quick overview of SP1 and whether you should install or not.
Unlike most service packs, this is mainly a roll up of all the updates and hot fixes that have been released since Win7 was launched back in October 2009 plus a few (and I mean a few) improvements to things you probably never realised were broken? There’s no bundled version of the new IE9 web browser (because it’s not finished yet), no new file system or anything of any consequence for that matter.
In the old days, the first service pack for a new Microsoft Operating system was an absolute must have item given the poor quality of the intial releases – and for evidence I give you Windows XP and the abortion that was Vista (was that released or did it escape?). However, with Windows 7, they finally got it right and so SP1 really is just an update to make sure everyone gets their version of Windows patched up to the right levels.
So now we get to the advice bit.
User: Should I install Service Pack 1 or should I wait?
Ranting Dwarf: Wait for what? This is software not wine – it won’t get better with age! Install and move on
User: I’ve read on the internet that people have had problems after they installed this. Is it safe?
Ranting Dwarf: I’ve read on the internet that aliens only abduct people who don’t like toast – so what? Microsoft test this stuff against a range of around 300,000 applications to make sure they don’t break anything. Most of the moaning about systems that won’t boot up or stuff not working properly is either written by people who should limit themselves to nothing more technical than a steam iron or a few brave souls who tested out the beta. Given the fact that most of SP1 is updates you already have, there is not much to go wrong. The whole service pack is 1.9Gb but if you install through Windows Update and you have kept your system up to date, you will only see around a 60 to 90Mb download which, on a decent system will take 10 to 15 minutes or 30 on a laptop.
Finally, for those interested (and frankly not even I am one of them) here’s what else they fixed:
Improved HDMI audio device performance
A small percentage of users have reported issues in which the connection between computers running Windows 7 and HDMI audio devices can be lost after system reboots. Updates have been incorporated into SP1 to ensure that connections between Windows 7 computers and HDMI audio devices are consistently maintained.
Corrected behavior when printing mixed-orientation XPS documents
Prior to the release of SP1, some customers have reported difficulty when printing mixed-orientation XPS documents (documents containing pages in both portrait and landscape orientation) using the XPS Viewer, resulting in all pages being printed entirely in either portrait or landscape mode. This issue has been addressed in SP1, allowing users to correctly print mixed-orientation documents using the XPS Viewer.
Change to behavior of “Restore previous folders at logon” functionality
SP1 changes the behavior of the “Restore previous folders at logon” function available in the Folder Options Explorer dialog. Prior to SP1, previous folders would be restored in a cascaded position based on the location of the most recently active folder. That behavior changes in SP1 so that all folders are restored to their previous positions.