March 24, 2010

Several SP1 Releases for Windows Embedded Standard 7

Microsoft indicates that it is highly probable that multiple versions of Service Pack 1 will be offered for Windows Embedded Standard 7. Matthew Tundo, a software development engineer on the Windows Embedded team, explains that although the several different versions of each service pack will bring to the table the same updates, they will differ in the manner in which the upgrades will be deployed. Tundo cited Microsoft’s need to adapt the upgrades to a multitude of scenarios in order to deliver the best experience possible, and that the company will provide "Full" and "Small" service packs.

“A Full SP contains a copy of all components (a component is a building block of a Feature Pack) that have been updated. A "Small" SP is an attempt to shave off the space requirement by only including the individual binaries within the component that have changed. The building process for "Small" SPs is still being developed, but we expect to be able to offer them at some point within the Windows Embedded Standard 7 lifecycle. Both of these types do not require network access to install,” Tundo stated.

Some Service Pack 1 releases are “more equal than others” even though they are all essentially targeting Windows 7. While Microsoft has only started to share details on the first service pack for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, released for over five months now, the company is already talking SP1 for the componentized and embedded version of Windows 7, although the actual operating system has yet to be released to manufacturing, not to mention offered to customers. Just as it is the case for Windows 7 client and server platforms, SP1 for Windows Embedded Standard 7 is a roll-up of updates released port-RTM, but also a vehicle for delivering additional out-of-band features.

According to Tundo, there will be two areas affected as far as Windows Embedded Standard is concerned, namely the embedded device and the Distribution Share and image creation process.

“The Service Pack will install any available updates for the packages present on the device. Not that the Service Pack itself contains every update created up to that point, only updates for components actually installed on your device will be installed. For example, if your image does not contain Internet Explorer, then no IE-specific updates will be installed,” Tundo stated.

However, Microsoft will not limit itself at simply upgrading Windows Embedded Standard 7 devices. The Redmond company will also make available a new release of the Distribution Share. In this regard, it will be Windows Embedded Standard 7 SP1 Distribution Share that will contain all updates previously included in feature packs.

“Note however that service packs themselves are not able to be added to the Distribution Share. This is intentional for several reasons: helps keep configuration set size down; the updates should already be contained in the Distribution Share, so the Service Pack itself will not be necessary. Individual packages will allow developers to choose specific updated packages; the entire Service Pack would be unnecessary if it does not update any of the packages in the image. Service Packs cannot be installed via a Configuration Set,” Tundo added.

Customers relying on Windows Embedded Standard 7 will not be able to install SP1 offline images. However, at the same time, SP1 for Windows Embedded evolved to the point in which the upgrade no longer wipes and reloads the devices. The promise from Microsoft is that deployments can be performed on running images, requiring only a restart in order for the integration to be completed.

“Because a service pack contains all previously released updates, so it provides a convenient way of periodically updating devices not connected to the network, ensuring that they will be running all available fixes,” Tundo said. “For image creation, the updated Distribution Share will give developers a stable base platform to create new devices that already contain the latest updates in a simple, clean way without having your answer file cluttered up with many individual updates.”

Microsoft underlined that Windows Embedded Standard 7 service packs would not be offered for download via Windows Update. Tundo explained that as major upgrades, the service packs need to be tested by OEM partners ahead of deployment.

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