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What you need to know about Windows 7 SP1

 
 
Tony Harding
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      03-02-2011, 06:47 PM
The following article is from last week's issue of Windows Secrets (paid
version), 02/24/11, which, I feel, is of general interest to us all and
addresses some earlier discussion on this NG.

---------------------------------------------------------

What you need to know about Windows 7 SP1

By Woody Leonhard

With Windows 7 Service Pack 1 generally available, Win7 users need to
know what SP1 brings and doesn't bring to the game.

In short, this service pack adds surprisingly little to Windows 7.
You'll want to install it eventually.

And for those of you who followed the conventional wisdom and are
waiting for the first service pack before installing Microsoft's newest
OS, you waited without good cause. Win 7 SP1 sports a little nip here
and a roll-up tuck there but there's not a single significant
enhancement to Win7.

And that's good news. It seems, for once, Microsoft turned out a major
new product that was relatively problem-free, right from the start.

Service Pack 1's most significant improvements

Uh, there really aren't any. At least not for the average PC user. (SP1
does have a few nifty new features for Windows Server 2008 R2.) No need
to take my word for it. Download Microsoft's official description,
"Notable changes in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack
1," available on a Microsoft Download Center page, and see for yourself.
"The impact of SP1 on the Windows 7 client operating system is
considered to be minimal. Included changes address minor usability
issues in specific scenarios," according to the unusually sedate
Microsoft manifesto.

To save you a bit of time and effort, here's a summary:

* Higher-definition connections with Remote Desktop: If you use
Remote Desktop (I prefer the third-party service LogMeIn), installing
SP1 on both PCs sets up high-definition connection via a new technology
Microsoft calls RemoteFX. Snappy name. Based on virtualization
technology (info page) Microsoft acquired two years ago when it bought
Calista Technologies, RemoteFX makes it possible for full graphics to
show through on remote sessions. Someday, we're promised, you'll be able
to use RemoteFX with your phone. I'm not holding my breath I'm not
even sure I'd want it.

* More Windows Live ID support: A technology Microsoft calls
"Microsoft Federation Gateway" will give SP1-enhanced PCs improved
Windows Live ID authentication to non-Microsoft sites, using a
long-established Web services protocol known as the WS-Federation
Passive Requestor Profile. I thought Win7 already had WS-Federation
profiles (detailed in an MSDN article) nailed, but apparently some fix
is necessary.

* An HDMI patch: I have no idea why MS emphasizes this as one of
the noteworthy changes in Win7 SP1. It's a bug fix to keep HDMI working
when a PC is rebooted.

* An XML Paper Specification fix: The 10 of you who actually use
XPS instead of PDF will be pleased that SP1 fixes a print bug affecting
mixed portrait and landscape documents.

* Even more-obscure fixes: These include restoring previous folders
at sign-in, IKEv2 protocol improvements (used in VPN connections), and a
hotfix rollup from November (KB 982018) for Advanced Format disks.
Little stuff.

This is a case where "SP" stands for "slim pickings."

Odd circumstances leading to SP1's release

If you follow the trade press, you may have picked up on some, uh,
anomalous circumstances surrounding the release of SP1. (We'll probably
see a similar series of leaks, half-leaks, and teasers leading up to
Windows 8 or whatever the next version of Windows is called.)

It appears that the code for SP1 was frozen as far back as
mid-to-late-November. The files are digitally signed 11/22/2010. The
official build identification string,
7601.17514.win7sp1_rtm.101119-1850, refers to November 19 ("101119").
The installer executable is dated November 23. That's a long, long time ago.

On October 27, 2010, Microsoft posted update KB 976902, which ended up
crashing a significant number of machines. Soon dubbed the "Black Hole
Update" by industry observers, the patch was pulled quickly and didn't
reappear until January. We now know KB 976902 is a precursor to
installing Windows 7 SP1 and it's automatically installed for you when
you install SP1.

As noted in a winrumors.com story, Microsoft updated its Service Pack
Blocker Tool Kit (download page) in November. The updated kit lets
corporate sites prevent Windows Update from automatically installing
SP1. In retrospect, it looks like MS released these tools right around
the time SP1 was finalized. That makes sense: the Windows development
team needs to have things nearly locked down before ancillary tools can
be distributed.

On January 13, Microsoft's Russian Windows Virtualization team posted
the Win7 SP1 RTM (release to manufacture) build identification string on
its MS TechNet site. Subsequently, the final build number was removed
from the site and someone at Microsoft posted a notice stating,
"Microsoft has not released SP1 to OEMs at this time, though we are on
track for a Q1 release, as we previously announced. The comments made in
this blog entry included some inaccuracies." As best I can tell, all of
the pertinent details on the Russian TechNet site were correct. Those of
you who watched the Windows 7 rollout will remember that
Russian-language sites leaked many details about Win7 that were later
confirmed. (The Russian sites just might provide accurate prerelease
details for Window 8.)

On January 14, a copy of 7601.17514.win7sp1_rtm.101119-1850 hit the
torrents, and Microsoft immediately and repeatedly denied that the
leaked build was final. On January 14, Paul Thurrott reported, "A bit of
rumor-busting. Some sites have claimed that SP1 is complete and that
Microsoft will release it to its OEM i.e., PC-maker partners as soon
as tomorrow. That is not the case. SP1 is imminent, but it's not quite
done as I write this." No doubt that's what MS's handlers told Paul, but
by all appearances, it wasn't true.

SP1's official announcement came three weeks later in a Feb. 9 Microsoft
Windows blog. At that point, MS said that OEMs had already received the
bits on February 9, that MSDN and TechNet subscribers would get them on
February 16 (they did), and that the rest of us will have SP1 on
February 22 via the MS Download Center and Windows Update.

That's an amazingly fast rollout, if indeed MS waited until February 9
for OEMs blindingly fast if you're selling new PCs and want to ship
them with the latest build of Windows 7. Perhaps it was smoke and
mirrors; OEMs have often been fingered as the source of torrent-based
leaks of new Microsoft software. Maybe the February 9 OEM announcement
was simply damage control.

As I noted at the outset, this first service pack says much about
Windows 7. It's surprisingly free of the growing pains that afflicted
earlier versions of Windows. Unless you are completely attached to
Windows XP, the wait to upgrade is over.

Feedback welcome: Have a question or comment about this story? Post your
thoughts, praises, or constructive criticisms in the WS Columns forum.

Woody Leonhard's latest books Windows 7 All-In-One For Dummies and
Green Home Computing For Dummies deliver the straight story in a way
that won't put you to sleep.
 
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Timothy Daniels
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      03-02-2011, 07:02 PM
"Tony Harding" posted:
> The following article is from last week's issue of Windows Secrets (paid version), 02/24/11, which, I feel, is of
> general interest to us all and addresses some earlier discussion on this NG. [.................]


Very nice look at the inside workings of MS releases. Thanks.
I hope Windows Secrets's attorneys recognize the publicity value
of your posting. ;-)

*TimDaniels*


 
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Tony Harding
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      09-01-2011, 09:59 PM
On 03/02/11 14:02, Timothy Daniels wrote:
> "Tony Harding" posted:
>> The following article is from last week's issue of Windows Secrets (paid version), 02/24/11, which, I feel, is of
>> general interest to us all and addresses some earlier discussion on this NG. [.................]

>
> Very nice look at the inside workings of MS releases. Thanks.
> I hope Windows Secrets's attorneys recognize the publicity value
> of your posting. ;-)
>
> *TimDaniels*


LOL, so far, so good. <vbg>

Tony
 
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Ben Myers
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      09-02-2011, 03:52 PM
On Sep 1, 5:59*pm, Tony Harding <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On 03/02/11 14:02, Timothy Daniels wrote:
>
> > "Tony Harding" posted:
> >> The following article is from last week's issue of Windows Secrets (paid version), 02/24/11, which, I feel, is of
> >> general interest to us all and addresses some earlier discussion on this NG. *[.................]

>
> > * * *Very nice look at the inside workings of MS releases. *Thanks.
> > I hope Windows Secrets's attorneys recognize the publicity value
> > of your posting. *;-)

>
> > *TimDaniels*

>
> LOL, so far, so good. *<vbg>
>
> Tony


I would be surprised if Microsoft had put some real "enhancements"
into Windows 7 SP1. As a rule, the only enhancements they add to a
service pack are those deemed necessary to support IMPORTANT new
hardware that comes available after the release of the original SP
ZERO product, e.g. SATA support introduced with XP SP2... Ben Myers
 
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