The end of support for the original version of Windows 7 is near - it ends on April 9, 2013 - and Microsoft as a consequence decided to distribute the first service pack for the operating system via Windows Update as an automatic update. You are probably wondering why support is ending. Microsoft has a policy in place that specifies that support for a product ends 24 months after the released of a service pack for it.
What this means is that support for all versions of Windows 7 will run out in the beginning of April since Windows 7 SP1 was released two years ago. Support for the service pack version of the operating system continues however, with the mainstream support date set to end on January 13, 2015 and the extended support date ending January 14, 2020.
The differences between both support phases may need explanation as well. When a product enters its extended support phase, it will receive security updates as usual. It won't receive other hotfixes and users can't use no-charge support programs anymore.
You can download the Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 here if you do not want to wait until it is automatically distributed. Most Ghacks users who run Windows 7 have probably upgraded a long time ago anyway. Microsoft plans to roll out the service pack to all users of the operating system who have not upgraded yet over the coming weeks. The company notes that this update will only be applied to consumer PCs and not PCs that are managed by a Microsoft management tool such as SCCM or WSUS Server.
What happens if you fail to upgrade to service pack 1? You won't receive any security updates or other updates anymore after the support end date as confirmed on the Microsoft Support Lifecycle page:
Both the Mainstream Support and Extended Support phases for software require a product’s supported service pack be installed to continue to receive full support (including security and DST updates).
Security updates released with bulletins from the Microsoft Security Response Center will be reviewed and built for the supported service packs only.
If you do not install the service pack for Windows 7, your PC will not receive these updates anymore after April 9, 2013.
Microsoft recommends that you make sure that you have sufficient free disk space on your system before you install the service pack for Windows 7. The service pack requires about 750 Megabyte of space on 32-bit systems and 1050 Megabyte of space on 64-bit systems if installed via Windows Update.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.