Windows 7 has been officially available for less than five months. In that time, it has established itself as the fastest-selling operating system in history--selling over 90 million copies. Despite that tremendous success, Microsoft has to continue to update and evolve the platform, which is why rumors and speculation are already beginning to mount regarding a Service Pack 1 (SP1) release.
Sources throughout the Internet and blogosphere are citing various reports that SP1 is under development, or possibly even already being beta tested, and that we can expect it to be released sometime toward the end of 2010.
One of the primary sources of speculation appears to be a Malaysian Web site called TechARP.com. TechARP cites unnamed sources claiming that Microsoft initially intended to develop SP1 on a 22-month cycle, but that the release of SP1 has been accelerated to address potentially serious issues in the operating system. The report is vague on details of what issues would warrant such an urgent change in the SP1 development cycle, though.
Unlike Windows Vista--which was a public relations nightmare pretty much from the day it launched--Windows 7 has been well-received and seems to be exceeding most expectations. Businesses that have adopted Windows 7 seem generally satisfied, and users are not clamoring for fixes or updates, with the possible exception of the battery issue reported by some.
There are some reports online of a leaked version of the Windows 7 SP1 beta. The leak may or may not represent a legitimate build of Windows 7 SP1, but if it is authentic, it suggests a variety of changes and new technologies that will be delivered. For example, some of the SP1 changes noted in the leak include a new way to display thumbnails in the taskbar, support for firewire cameras, reducing the size of the paging file, and multitouch zoom (unless Apple sues Microsoft too).
It is all rumor, speculation, and innuendo at this point, though. I contacted Microsoft and was told by a spokesperson that "Per Microsoft policy, we do not comment on rumors or speculation. We have nothing new to announce at this time and will be in touch should we have more to share."
Where the conventional wisdom with Windows Vista was to wait for SP1 rather than embracing the initial release, that logic does not apply with Windows 7. The original release of Windows 7 is already stable and secure and organizations still running Windows XP are facing both an increase in attacks and malware, and a quickly fading timeline for Microsoft to continue supporting the legacy operating system.
The bottom line is this: Windows 7 SP1 might have some new tools and technologies, or perhaps even some performance tweaks that will make it a worthwhile upgrade. However, Windows 7 is already a solid operating system platform and I wouldn't suggest that any business hold off implementing it strictly on the basis of waiting for SP1.