Service Packs in Windows Embedded Standard 7

*Updated 3/25/10- removed section "Types of Service Packs" , added section "Service Packs and Distribution Share"*

This article discusses Service Packs and how they will be used in Windows Embedded Standard 7.

What is a Service Pack?

A Service Pack is a roll-up of all previously released updates, and additionally may contain select out-of-band features.

For Standard 7, there are two main areas effected:

1) The embedded device itself.

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.

2) The Distribution Share and image creation process.

At the same time as the Service Pack is released for updating devices, we are also planning provide a new release of the Distribution Share, with all updates contained in the feature packs themselves.

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

Advantages and Disadvantages of Service Packs


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.

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.


The main limitation of a Service Pack is that it cannot be installed to an offline image.

Differences from XP Embedded

The major advantage over XPe servicing is that Service Packs no longer a wipe and reload of the device. They can be applied to a running image, and require only a reboot of the device in order to complete the installation.

Minimizing Service Pack Footprint

Work has been done for Standard 7 to ensure that Service Packs can have as small a size as possible while still containing all necessary updates. In prior versions of Windows, Service Packs were granular only to the component level. That means that if a component contained several files but only one was updated, the entire component (including the unmodified files) was included in the Service Pack. However, Standard 7 Service Packs will contain only the binaries themselves which have been modified, ensuring the file size is minimal without sacrificing security and stability.

Service Packs and the Distribution Share

Service Packs will not be able to be imported into the Distribution Share (the repository of packages used to create images). Instead, when SP1 is released there will be also an SP1-based version of the Distribution Share made available with all of the SP1 updates already contained in the packages themselves. This way, any new Embedded devices can be created will already contain all available updates.

Windows Update and Service Packs

For Standard 7, Service Packs will not be downloaded by Windows Update. The rationale for this is that Service Packs constitute a major change to the OS which OEMs will likely want to test before deploying.


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