Microsoft on Tuesday released Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2. Included in SP1 are numerous stability, compatibility, and performance improvements, although there are few new features. Specific refinements include increased scalability and availability for DirectAccess, better support for managed service accounts in extranet environments, performance tuning for authentication by cloud-based service providers, and better storage failover clustering.
This service pack release follows a public test release of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 in July 2010.
Helpfully, as with all service packs, this release bundles all security fixes to date. "Microsoft has shipped 796 bug fixes and security improvements to Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2," said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at Sophos Canada, in a blog post. While many of these updates have been available via Windows Update, having them all in one place will simplify the patching and upgrade process for many organizations.
Microsoft said the update process requires about 30 minutes, including a reboot at the halfway mark. The size of the upgrade varies from 44 MB to 1 GB, based on the chosen installation method. In terms of hard drive space, 750 MB of free disk space is required to install the update via Windows Update on a 32-bit machine. The free space requirements rise to 4.1 GB of free space for a 32-bit machine, and 7.4 GB for a 64-bit machine, when using an SP1 installation DVD or after downloading the installer from Microsoft's Web site.
SP1 also includes two new features for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure: Dynamic Memory for Hyper-V users and RemoteFX.
According to Microsoft, "Dynamic Memory allows for memory on a host machine to be pooled and dynamically distributed to virtual machines as necessary. Memory is dynamically added or removed based on current workloads, and is done so without service interruption." Wisniewski said that heavily loaded Windows 2008 R2 systems should see efficiency improvements when using Dynamic Memory.
The other new feature, RemoteFX, is based on technology that Microsoft acquired from Calista that is meant to provide a desktop-like media experience when streaming video or 3D effects via a LAN.
The release of the first service pack for a Windows operating system historically marked the point at which businesses would begin to upgrade en masse. But as of January 2011, according to analytics firm NetApplications.com, Windows 7 already accounted for 22% of the global operating system market, compared with 55% for Windows XP, 12% for Windows Vista, and 4% for Mac OS X.