Windows 7 Service Pack 1 was released in February of 2011. It addresses many issues concerning third-party software compatibility, drivers, and adds support for various new protocols and services.

Important changes with SP1

First, you may remember the newer XPS feature mentioned in the A+ Exam Cram Chapter 13 "Printers." This feature is meant to replace the enhanced metafile print spooler. However, many users were reporting bugs dealing with the orientation of documents when viewing and when printing with XPS. SP1 addresses these and mixed orientation document issues. This could be the most important portion of the SP1 updates concerning the A+ exams. XPS printing is being used more and more, so you need to understand that SP1 is a critical fix for organizations using XPS functionality.

Next, some users had issues with hardware interfaces and devices, for example HDMI audio devices. Namely, losing the device after certain computer reboots. This has for the most part been fixed, but will depend on the HDMI device. Another issue that has been fixed for many video cards is one dealing with multiple monitor configurations. If a user has a PCIe x16 video card with two monitors connected (spreading the desktop across two screens) they might encounter loss of one screen or the other (or even both in some cases) when connecting other hardware to a USB port, sound port, or Firewire port. Many of these issues have been corrected. this particular issue would happen if you utilized the same GeForce GT260 card I used in the A+ Exam Cram in a multiple monitor setup. I haven't tested this fix personally as of yet on that particular computer, but once I do I will amend this article.

On to some software issues. Users reported issues with older software. For example, Macromedia Dreamweaver MX does not create tables in Win7 (was also an issue in Vista), or third-party camera software doesn't work properly. Many of these third-party issues can be fixed with an update to SP1. But in some cases, the third-party software will need an update, or a new version unfortunately.

Windows 7 SP1 fixes bugs and has additional support for identity federation services communications. Third-party services that are based on technologies such as the Windows Identity Foundation and the WS-Federation specification allow for identity and authentication information to be transferred from user to user, or company to company in a more secure manner across different protocols.

Windows 7 (and Windows Server 2008) SP1 adds support for Advanced Vector Extensions or AVX which are 256-bit instruction sets for processors, adds improved support for Advanced Format 512e for storage devices, and improves upon IKEv2 (for authentication during RRAS/IPsec connections.) Also, Restore previous folders at logon has been updated to represent original folder positions.

Of course, that just scratches the surface. There are 796 total security updates and hotfixes. To find out more about these check out the following links:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff817622(WS.10).aspx

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=61924cea-83fe-46e9-96d8-027ae59ddc11&displaylang=en

Assessing the service pack level and updating

To find out your service pack level in Windows 7 click Start, then click Computer. Next, right-click Properties and the System window will appear. Look under the Windows edition section and you will see the type of Windows 7 you are running and the SP level. If you do not see anything listed about a service pack, then you are not running one and should most likely update your computer. In a network environment, you must test the update first before deployment, and whether or not you use SP1 will be based on many factors. But in general, the individual user should update their system. You can also find out your SP level by going to the Run prompt and typing Winver, or going to the Command Prompt and typing Ver. Again, if no SP is listed, then you are not running one, otherwise informally known as SP0.

For the individual user, the SP can be automatically downloaded and installed if you have configured Automatic Updates. This is the easiest way for the average user. See this link for a step-by-step on how to do that. You can also access Windows Update on the web at this link. That should automatically open up the Windows Update window on your computer as well. Of course, to open Windows Update directly on your computer, click Start > All Programs > Windows Update. For more about service packs and Windows Update, see Chapter 9 in my A+ Exam Cram 5th edition.

You can also download the service pack in .exe, .msi, or .iso format from the following link:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=c3202ce6-4056-4059-8a1b-3a9b77cdfdda

These various packages can be helpful if you need to deploy SP1 to multiple computers. Your particular environment will dictate which file you should download. Before downloading, I recommend reading the article at the following link:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2505743

Hope this information helps you. I know I personally have gotten a lot of questions from students and readers about SP1 for Win7, almost as many as when we were waiting for SP1 for Vista. If you are having a hardware issue, software compatibility issue, or need better XPS printing functionality, look into SP1. But make sure that it addresses your needs before installation, especially if you are doing this on a computer within your organization. Your organization might have a policy about SP1. Some companies do not want to install it for various reasons. And all organizations will have procedures that you must follow (especially testing) before deploying SP1.

                      
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