What you need to know about Windows 7 SP1

Woody leonhard
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.

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Woody Leonhard

About Woody Leonhard

Woody Leonhard is a Windows Secrets senior editor and a senior contributing editor at InfoWorld. His latest book, the comprehensive 1,080-page Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies, delves into all the Win8 nooks and crannies. His many writings tell it like it is — whether Microsoft likes it or not.