A registry key embedded into a Windows 7 patch suggests that external testing of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 may be right around the corner.
Windows blogger Rafael Rivera discovered this registry key, which a Windows 7 system would require before allowing installation of SP1. A similar system was used with Windows Vista service packs before their release.
As you can see above, the registry entry in question ends in WindowsUpdateWin7SP1SPORTM, and while there is some debate as to what SPORTM stands for, my best guess is that it means “Service Pack One Release To Manufacturing.”
This registry entry does confirm that Service Pack 1 is on its way, just a few short months after the new operating system’s release. It also means that Microsoft is probably getting ready to pass early versions of the service pack along to its partners and to software developers for preliminary testing, which is in keeping with the long testing phase of the Windows 7 beta and release candidate builds.
End users will probably not see a version of SP1 posted by Microsoft for download until the Beta or Release Candidate phase, but as soon as SP1 is released to testers outside Microsoft I would expect to see it leaked. As always, we’ll keep an eye out for it.
I have written previously about why Microsoft needs to deliver a service pack for Windows 7.