Microsoft has started to release its Windows 7 SP1 to consumers around the globe, giving them the first major update to Windows since it launched.

The new download that clocks in at 1.9GB should be appearing in the automatic update area of your Windows 7 PC any time now.

The company confirmed earlier this month that its Windows 7 SP1 and sibling server product, Windows 2008 R2 SP1, would both arrive on Tuesday 22 February.

“Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is an important update that includes previously released security, performance, and stability updates for Windows 7,” says Microsoft. “SP1 also includes new improvements to features and services in Windows 7, such as improved reliability when connecting to HDMI audio devices, printing using the XPS Viewer, and restoring previous folders in Windows Explorer after restarting.”

The recommended (and easiest) way to get SP1 is to turn on automatic updating in Windows Update in Control Panel, and wait for Windows 7 to notify you that SP1 is ready to install. It takes about 30 minutes to install, and you'll need to restart your computer about halfway through the installation.