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Windows 7 Updates Headed for Service Pack 1?

Microsoft hasn't said yet when it plans to release the first service pack (SP) for Windows 7, but more pieces of what are likely to be bundled into that release seem to be surfacing.

That momentum picked up speed on Monday evening when Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) released several non-security patches for Windows 7 and its counterpart Windows Server 2008 R2.

The batch of patches mostly consists of "reliability updates." This is not the first set of reliability updates, which are meant to make the system more stable. Microsoft actually released the first of those in October just before Windows 7's consumer launch.

Microsoft's new updates include four reliability updates, as well as two more updates aimed at fixing a very specific problem that involves 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The problem only crops up if the user's PC has a particular NVidia chipset, at least 4 GB of memory, and experiences system crashes while using a USB device, according to a description of the update on Microsoft's site.

Other updates include new versions of the System Update Readiness Tool.

Users can get the latest updates by going to the Start menu, clicking on All Programs, and selecting Windows Update.

These fixes only add to what will inevitably make up Service Pack 1. Service packs normally include all of the security and non-security patches issued between the release of the operating system and the period just before the service pack appears. They rarely include new features and are usually just putting all the patches into one collection.

Historically, IT shops have waited until the release of the first service pack before they begin deploying or even testing a new operating system. Typically, the first service pack arrives about a year to 18 months after a new system's public release.

The clock began ticking SP1 last July, when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky signed the golden copies of the Windows 7 disks, sending them to manufacture.

The first hint of a service pack came in early January, when blogger Raphael Rivera announced in his Within Windows blog that he had found entries in Windows 7's registry meant to enable a service pack to run.

Microsoft nearly always plays coy about when it will release the first service pack of a new operating system, and they have yet to even admit that there will be a service pack for Windows 7, at least any time soon. "We are not discussing SP1 at this time," a Microsoft spokesperson told InternetNews.com in an e-mail.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.