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Update: I posted a workaround that allows you to install RSAT on Windows 7 SP1.
I suppose quite a few IT pros have waited for the Windows 7 service pack 1 before they upgraded from Windows XP or Vista. I am afraid that many will have their first negative experience with Windows 7 shortly thereafter. RSAT (Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7) certainly belongs to the first tools every Windows admin installs. Unfortunately, RSAT can't be installed on Windows 7 SP1.
This problem is not new. When Vista was released, the RSAT precursor, the Adminpak tools, could only be installed by manually registering all of the DLLs. Some of the tools still didn't work, but at least there was a workaround available. Sometimes a solution to the famous error message "This update is not applicable to your computer" was to change the Windows version in the registry.
Unfortunately, it appears that there is no such quick workaround this time. I played a little with the well-known registry entries, but to no avail. If you have already installed SP1 for Windows 7, you have no other option than to uninstall SP1, and then first install RSAT, and then reinstall SP1. If you installed Windows 7 SP1 from a DVD, then this "workaround" is not an option. You have to start from scratch and install Windows 7 RTM, then RSAT, and then SP1.
Honestly, I don't understand why Microsoft neglects this important tool set. The damage to the reputation of Windows is immense. The articles I wrote about Vista and the Adminpak/RSAT problem were read about 300,000 times or so. These were mostly Windows admins coming from Google, looking for a solution for this odd problem. Many other popular sites discussed the problem as well. Therefore, this number represents only a small portion of the administrators seeking help.
Of course, IT pros are the ones who first install a new Windows version. These are also the guys who often decide whether the whole organization upgrades its Windows version or not. I bet countless Windows admins gave up on Vista right after they tried to install the Adminpak. If important programs from the Windows maker don't even work, how much compatibility can I expect from this Windows version?
This time, the case is even more annoying. Obviously, RSAT works fine on Windows 7 SP1 if the service pack is installed after RSAT. The only problem seems to be that RSAT is an "update" for Windows 7 RTM that is "not applicable" for Windows 7 SP1.
Heck, can someone please tell me why tools that originally don't belong to Windows come as an update? The problem probably has something to do with the fact that Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 were released together. The corresponding management tools are already included in the server version and the service pack possibly changes some of the DLLs. Nevertheless, this certainly doesn't justify this problem.
Of course, Microsoft will release a new version of RSAT that can be installed on Windows 7 SP1, sooner or perhaps later. We can only hope it won't take as long as it did for the Vista version of RSAT. To annoy admins is not a wise strategy if you want an operating system to be adopted quickly by businesses.