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Evaluating Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Beta

Microsoft is busy working on the first service pack for Windows 7 and the SP1 Beta has already appeared on a number of legitimate websites with the software giant showing no intention of shoring the leak.

The current build number, 7601.16562.100603-1800, indicates that it was compiled on the 3rd of June 2010 and like most service packs, bring together all the updates that are available already through Windows Update.

SP1 Beta weighs in at 1.22GB and will be available in German, English, Japanese, French and Spanish version. Attempts to install it on Windows 7 with other localised languages may end up badly. We've already covered earlier leaks that appeared back in April 2010.

However, unlike previous iterations of Windows, expect Windows 7 SP1 to appear over the next couple of months rather than late in 2010 as initially thought. One reason put forward for such haste is that many corporate users might be sticking to the rule that says "don't install a new OS until the first SP1".

As for improvements, unfortunately, improved battery life, support for USB 3.0, better Wi-Fi and Bluetooth aren't apparently on the list. Whether Internet Explorer 9 Beta, which is due towards the end of August, will be bundled with SP1 remains a distant possibility.

The semi official list of improvements reads as follows : additional support for communication with third-party federation services, improved HDMI audio device performance, Corrected behaviour when printing mixed-orientation XPS documents, change to behaviour of Restore previous folders at logon functionality, Enhanced support for additional identities in RRAS and IPsec, Support for Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX).

If, like me, most of the changes appear to be trivial, this is because, they are only minor, under the hood improvements. That said, keep a tab on support for AVX which is a new 256-bit instruction set extension for processors.

Backed by both Intel and AMD, AVX will be supported by future Sandy Bridge based and AMD's promising Bulldozer processors, both of which will come in 2011, and may potentially offer significant performance boosts in certain floating point intensive tasks.

So in conclusion, SP1 is uninspiring and unexciting as expected but that shouldn't distract us from the fact that Windows 7 has been a roaring success until now and is a superb opereating success which helped us forget about Windows Vista.

For those courageous enough to take a dive, you can download Windows 7 SP1 beta from NGOHQ in 64 bit or 32 bit versions.