Michael Horowitz

Why Windows 7 SP1 may go missing

November 21, 2011 3:11 PM EST
Back in March, I wrote that there was no rush to install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1). But that was eight months ago, and it's certainly advisable now. And even back then, I felt that installing it on a new computer was the right approach.

So, imagine my surprise when a new Windows 7 computer refused to acknowledge that Service Pack 1 existed. There were over 70 available Windows patches (the computer was a bit dated), but none were SP1.

Back when Service Pack 1 was released, I recall reading that there were some patches that were highly advisable to install before installing SP1*. Rather than re-research this, I installed about 20 patches and hoped SP1 would show up. Then another 20, then another. Eventually, I installed everything Windows Update offered, except for Internet Explorer 9. Still no Service Pack.  

A trip to search engine land turned up Microsoft's KB2498452  (You do not have the option of downloading Windows 7 SP1 when you use Windows Update to check for updates), where the fourth suggestion, "Check whether you have Intel integrated graphics driver Igdkmd32.sys or Igdkmd64.sys", seemed on target. The computer was an Acer 3820T laptop with Intel integrated graphics running a 64 bit edition of Windows 7.

But the situation was not a perfect match.

The laptop had a video driver whose version number was in the suspect range, but the name of the driver was different. Microsoft said the incompatibility problem was with Igdkmd64.sys but the main video driver on the computer was identified as igdumb64.dll.

Figuring that it couldn't hurt to update the video driver, I tried the pre-installed Acer Updater application. Sadly, it returned no updates to any Acer software, something keep in mind if you're considering buying an Acer computer.

Fortunately, Intel has their own software updater application, which I wrote about back in September 2009.

The Intel utility reported that the installed video driver was old, but it didn't have an update because Acer had modified the driver. No wonder Macs sell so well.

The Intel utility did, however, offer a link to Acers website where I was able to download a zip file with the new video driver.  

Despite the file name mis-match, with the updated video driver, Windows Update was now offering to install Service Pack 1. Problem solved.

But this brings up an interesting issue - how the Service Pack installer deals with new files. Many of the just-installed patches were issued well after Service Pack 1 was released and I wondered if installing the eight month old Service Pack might restore some known vulnerabilities.

It did not.

But, as is often the case with Microsoft, the Service Pack seems to have installed software with known vulnerabilities. Specifically, the previously fully-patched system now needed three new patches to the .NET Framework: KB2518869 from June 2011, KB2539635 from August 2011 and KB2572077 from October 2011.
 
I am so ready for a post-PC world.


*According to Microsoft's Steps to follow before you install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 from the Microsoft Download Center, the patches are KB2454826, KB2534366 and KB2533552.