Service pack

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Service pack ( English for maintenance package ) is a term used by various manufacturers for the compilation of patches for updating one of their operating systems and other software products.

Installation of Service Pack 1 of Windows 7

Since the release of the Windows NT operating system up to Windows 7 and its server counterparts, Microsoft has issued compilations of bug fixes for its NT-based operating systems and also for applications (e.g. Internet Explorer or Microsoft Office ) as service packs at irregular, longer intervals . Microsoft has not applied the service pack concept since the introduction of Windows 10 or Office 2016; instead, updates are offered at regular intervals (Office: every month, Windows: approx. Every 6 months).

Other manufacturers (for example Network Associates ) have joined this definition.

Patches usually only correct a single bug. In the event of urgent errors, in particular security gaps in network protocols or network interfaces, these patches are provided by the manufacturer as hotfixes at short notice .

Service packs offer the advantage that many of these patches can be applied with a single installation. This means that many-digit numbers of changes can be made in the background. As a rule, a service pack contains all patches (provided they have not become obsolete ) since the main version or since the previous service pack. In some cases, new or previously missing properties are implemented in service packs . As a result, a service pack can contain not only bug fixes but also extensions or improvements, as in an update . Some service packs are provided by the manufacturers in advance for testing and go through a test phase as a beta version .

According to a software manufacturer's guarantee, some applications work on an operating system from a certain installed version of a service pack. Service packs therefore represent a new sub-version of a software system.

Service packs are usually cumulative , which means that they also summarize the updates from previous service packs (e.g. Service Pack 4 for Windows 2000 contains all corrections to packages 1, 2 and 3). If a service pack is not cumulative, the service packs must be installed in the order in which they appear. However, this is only the case with very few products.