Microsoft is helping Windows 7 customers deal with poor startup performance in the context in which they have at least one external SATA port that is not used.

The Redmond company has confirmed an issue related to the latest iteration of the Windows client, in which customers can experience sluggish boot times on computers that have an unused external SATA port.

And while the software giant is not offering affected users an update to resolve the issue, it is providing them with a hotfix which can be downloaded from Microsoft Support.

“You experience a long startup time on a Windows 7-based computer that has an unused external SATA port,” reads Microsoft’s description of the problem.

For those not familiar with SATA, the acronym stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, and is essentially a consumer mass storage interconnect designed for the ATA command protocol.

The software giant has even identified the source of the problem, and explained it briefly for customers.

“This issue occurs because the Microsoft Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) initialization timing does not align with the SATA specification,” the company added.

The hotfix available from Microsoft Support is only intended to resolve the glitch described above, and with Microsoft advising customers that experienced no Windows 7 startup performance degradation to dodge the fix altogether.

At the same time, according to the information supplied by Microsoft, the hotfix for this problem is planned for integration into Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) which is due in the first half of 2011.

“Serial ATA is a new serial interconnect for storage devices that use the ATA command protocol,” Microsoft explains.

“The benefits that the Serial ATA interconnect brings to ATA comes from its cable connector, its cabling, and its transfer speed,” the company added.

Windows 7 Service Pack (SP1) Beta Build 7601.16562.100603-1800 is available for download here.

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