Windows 7 Service Pack 1 arrives to little fanfare

Maybe it’s just me, but the release of service pack 1 for Windows 7 ought to be a fairly big deal, but because this release coincides with sp1 for Server 2008 R2, the message seems to been a little lost and garbled.

In a TechNet flash email I received this week, entitled “Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 SP1 Arrives” the only reference to a service pack was this:

“Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 is ready with new virtualization tools, web resources, management enhancements, and Windows 7 integration.”

Not a resoundingly clear message about Windows 7 sp1 availability. So I checked my Windows updates which had a handful of Office things, the usual Malicious Software Removal tool update and a couple of vaguely worded items which I included as well. No service pack to be seen. Next step, search engine!

The first hit on a Google search for Windows 7 sp1 was a page which referred to a couple of ways to download and install it, but none of the links would work, because the page was for the OEM channel (and I am not an OEM partner). Probably useful for those who did want this page, less so for the masses who just want it installing.

I did then find a page called “Learn how to install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1)”, clearly designed on purpose to make this easy to find and use. It opens with this information (my emphasis):

“Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is an important update that includes previously released security, performance, and stability updates for Windows 7. Installing SP1 helps keep Windows 7 up to date.”

So I was surprised to find that this was not listed as an update for me to choose. But I noticed further down the page this little disclaimer:

“Note: If SP1 isn’t listed, you might need to install some other updates before installing SP1. Install any important updates, return to the Windows Update page, and then click Check for updates again.”

After installing the bunch of updates I had and restarting the machine as required, I checked Windows Update again. Service Pack 1 still not listed there, but now some fix for .Net that was not there before. Installed that, restarted and now, finally I get the choice to choose sp1 as an update. Seems curious that to install a service pack that includes all previous hotfixes, updates and whatnot, that I have to install all those previous fixes first before I even get the option. I expect many people will have given up at this point, thinking “oh well, must be already installed then or it would be nagging me to do it, surely?”

If you do manage to convince Windows Update that you have already installed enough of the previous fixes, you will see something like this, listing sp1 as hotfix KB976932:

Windows 7 service pack 1 shown as hotifx KB976932 in Windows Update

Downloading the whole service pack

If you have several separate machines to patch, or are the kind of person who regularly rebuilds machines or VMs, or you are the de facto go-to support person for family and friends you may want to download the service pack so that you can run it from a USB thumb drive without any fuss or delay. Of course this is especially useful if you have good old dialup or a tightly-capped broadband connection.

Of course if you are running an IT department with any kind of central control you should be using WSUS to control and push out updates after testing them first to make sure they don’t cause any issues in your particular environment.

First, head to the download page for Windows 7 service pack 1. After doing the usual genuine advantage check and scratching your head for a while at the strange array of choices, you will almost certainly want one or both of these links on that page (or right click on the link(s) below and choose “save link as” or whatever is normal for your browser, but you will have had to pass validation in that browser session first as far as I can tell):

windows6.1-KB976932-X64.exe – that’s sp1 for Windows 6.1 (aka 7!) 64 bit editions

windows6.1-KB976932-X86.exe – sp1 for Windows 6.1/7 32 bit

Be warned that these are pretty hefty – the 64 bit version weighs in at 925 MB, almost three times the size of XP sp3 and twice the size of Vista sp1 as a comparison. The Windows update route is supposed to take away most of this pain by only downloading bits you really need, but as described above there might be scenarios where it actually makes more sense to take the hit once.

I have not bothered to download the full ISO to burn a DVD with both 32 bit and 64 bit on, since that was larger than these two added together. Nor have I bothered with the debugging stuff as I can’t see me using that realistically.

Once you have service pack 1 downloaded you can install it by double clicking, and after providing credentials for UAC you see this and everything should be self-explanatory from there:

Windows 7 service pack 1 first step

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