As Microsoft winds down free support for Windows 7, it’s pushing out one of its only service packs (SP1) to users who have yet to install it. Unless you have SP1 on your computer by April 9, Microsoft will stop supporting your computer with future security and performance fixes, so it’s imperative that you take the time to get this service pack.
Windows users should be familiar with service packs – a feature that basically consists of a number of fixes that are all delivered in one big software update. Microsoft actually rolled out Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 back in February, 2011, but because support for it ends within 24 months, the update will expire on April 9, 2013.
There’s a good chance you already have SP1 installed, especially if your computer is set to automatically receive updates from Microsoft. You can check to see if you already have the service pack installed by following these instructions. According to Microsoft, starting today, “the installation will be fully automatic with no user action required for those who already have Automatic Update enabled.”
If you don’t have it, it’s not difficult to get this very important Windows 7 update. Depending on whether you’re running the 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7, you will need to free up between 750MB and just over 1GB of space on your hard drive to install SP1. Otherwise, you will need to head over to Download Center to grab the service pack yourself, which takes about 30 minutes to download.
Once your copy of Windows 7 is up to date, Microsoft promises to keep providing updates and free “mainstream support” until January 13, 2015. That said, if you require help with Windows 7 beyond 2015 (and until January 14, 2020), as you can see in the chart above, you’ll have to pay Microsoft for “extended support.”