Windows 7 and you: Wait for the service pack?

Is the conventional wisdom about waiting for the first Service Pack before installing a new OS still valid?

For many, the official release of a new Microsoft operating system--such as Windows 7--is just the starting of a clock. They will not buy the new OS until Service Pack 1 is released.

Why? Microsoft has a reputation for releasing buggy software. While Windows 7 has been widely tested by real customers, history presents the likelihood that one or more major "gotcha's" will appear.

With previous operating systems, these were usually fixed in a service pack that followed the release of the new OS. Windows Vista, for example, is currently on Service Pack 2 (SP2), while Windows XP is on SP3.

In the case of Windows 7, Microsoft has said the first service pack is likely to be issued about 12 months after introduction, meaning a year from now, in October 2010.

If you are happy with Windows XP and leery of Windows 7, maybe this timing makes sense. Or maybe you'll go ahead and upgrade regardless.

Either way, it is important to realize that Windows service packs are not what they used to be. There was a time when service packs were the primary vehicle for delivering fixes for Microsoft operating systems.

That has changed. Today, Microsoft issues a stream of patches throughout the product's lifetime, with service packs used to "roll-up" all of the fixes into a single piece of software that will install all the patches released to-date. Service Packs may also install new features and upgrade old ones.

Gartner, the big IT consultant, has urged its clients not to wait for SP1 to begin testing Windows 7. Part of this is because Windows XP is already on what Microsoft calls "extended support" which ends in 2014. It is also, I think, recognition that Windows 7 has been thoroughly tested and Microsoft will quickly issue patches as they are required.

Finally, it may also recognize what some have already suggested: The Windows 7 not so much a new OS as it is Windows Vista Service Pack 3.

My take: While I am am not planning to upgrade (Vista) or migrate (XP) my own machines to Windows 7, it is because I am planning to purchase new hardware instead. I am not terribly concerned about showstopping bugs in Windows 7, so I am also not waiting on the Service Pack to begin using the new OS in my home office.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Windows 7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

David Coursey

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?