As was the case for its predecessor, Microsoft is not making Windows 7 customers wait for the first major upgrade in order to taste the evolution of the operating system.
Instead, the Redmond company is serving bits and pieces of Windows 7 Service Pack (SP1) ahead of the actual upgrade through Windows Update.
This is not really new for the software giant, as Windows Vista was treated the same.
In fact, some users might remember that Vista RTM was better and better, as Microsoft delivered multiple performance, stability, reliability and application compatibility refreshes through WU.
This is part of a strategy to reduce the relevancy of service packs in the context of Windows’ evolution.
Traditionally, SP1 has marked the maturity milestone for various Windows releases, including for Vista.
This catalyzed and fueled the tactic, especially for business users, to wait for the release of SP1 before they planned or started migration to a new Windows release.
Even some end users adopted this practice, and delayed upgrading to a new Windows OS until the platform had spent at least one year on the market, by which time SP1 was usually delivered.
Following the advent of Vista, Microsoft revealed that it intended to cut the customers’ reliance on major upgrades.
The company emphasized that the growth of Windows Update meant that users could benefit from the advances normally synonymous with a service pack, but without the hassles of a major upgrade.
Instead, improvements would be delivered as updates through WU, automatically, in a process designed to go by almost unnoticed by end users.
Confirmation that Windows 7 did not need SP1 in order to be ready for deployment has been given extremely early during its development.
As Windows 7 hit Beta, the consensus was that that the Build felt like a RTM rather than just the first public testing milestone.
The consensus over the quality of Windows 7 continued after the product was released to manufacturing and after it hit General Availability.
Windows 7 RTM continues to receive rave review for its compatibility, performance, stability and reliability.
Yet, Windows 7 SP1 is indeed coming. The first Beta development milestone of Service Pack 1 is now up for grabs, with the final version planned for release in the first half of 2011.
But, after the RTM of Windows 7, Microsoft started delivering a variety of updates, improving various aspects of the platform, including performance and app compatibility.
In this context, users need not wait for SP1 in order to enjoy some of the enhancements that the Redmond company has planned early.
I put together a list with recently released updates available to Windows 7 customers ahead of Service Pack 1.
Application Compatibility Update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: August 2010 (KB2272691)
“The Windows Application Compatibility Update is a software update that improves the compatibility experience in the following Microsoft Windows operating systems: Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2,” Microsoft stated.
“Microsoft regularly releases application compatibility updates for these Windows operating systems.”
The refresh is designed to change the behavior of applications, via a compatibility refresh by introducing:
“Hard block - The update puts a hard block on the application. A hard block prevents an application that is incompatible with Windows 7 and with Windows Server 2008 from running on the system.
Microsoft enables Windows to put a hard block on a non-Microsoft application only if the manufacturer of the application gives its consent.
Soft block - The update puts a soft block on the application. A soft block notifies you when an application that is incompatible with Windows 7 starts to run.
Update - The update improves the application’s functionality in Windows Vista SP2, in Windows Server 2008 SP2, in Windows 7, and in Windows Server 2008 R2,” Microsoft stated.
In the case of this specific update, Sensible Vision FastAccess was updated. The Redmond company notes that the refresh “updates the soft block to make sure that the soft block only applies to FastAccess 2.4.7 and earlier versions.”
Download Pre-SP1 Windows 7 Performance and Compatibility Boosts
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