Microsoft starts auto-installing Windows 7 SP1 on consumer PCs Tuesday

Preps customers for April demise of support for Windows 7 RTM

Microsoft today said it will start automatically pushing Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) to customers as a last-ditch move before it drops the original 2009 edition of Windows 7 from support next month.

Windows 7 RTM -- the latter stands for "release to manufacturing," Microsoft-speak for a launch edition -- will be retired from support, including security updates, after April 9, next month's regularly-scheduled Patch Tuesday.

Although Microsoft has made Windows 7 SP1 available via Automatic Updates -- Windows' default consumer update service -- for more than two years, customers were required to approve the new version before it installed.

As of tomorrow, any Windows RTM-powered consumer PC with Automatic Updates enabled will receive Windows 7 SP1, said Microsoft in a Monday blog.

"Installation will be fully automatic with no user action required for those who already have Automatic Update enabled," wrote Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc.

Businesses that manage Windows updates and patches with tools including WSUS (Windows Server Update Services) and SCCM (Systems Center Configuration Manager) will not be affected by the automatic install. "[WSUS and SCCM] administrators still have full control over the release of Service Pack 1," LeBlanc noted.

The blocker tool that some used to bar Windows SP1 from reaching their PCs has long expired -- it gave up the ghost in February 2012 -- so those who want, for whatever reason, to stick with Windows 7 RTM must disable Automatic Updates.

After April 9, Windows 7 RTM will no longer receive fixes or, more importantly, security updates.

Microsoft has promised to support Windows 7 SP1 with non-security bug fixes and security patches until Jan. 13, 2015, and with patches only for another five years, or until Jan. 14, 2020.

Windows 7 SP1 debuted in February 2011, but the process was marred for some customers when the upgrade triggered PC crashes and freezes.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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