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SP1 Coming Next Year for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will be released "within the first half of calendar year 2011," Microsoft announced this week.

The service pack is currently available as a beta for test purposes, having been released earlier this month. However, this week, Microsoft published a FAQ on the SP1 beta, which disclosed the approximate product release date for the service pack, perhaps for the first time.

The first service pack release date is sometimes considered important for IT pros. "Common wisdom" has it that IT organizations should begin deploying any new Microsoft product only after the release of SP1, but not before its release. However, Microsoft's FAQ takes this notion to task. In this case, the FAQ argues, SP1 mostly consists of routine rollup changes that are delivered via Windows Update anyway. The service pack actually contains few new features.

"Dynamic Memory" and "RemoteFX" are the only major new features offered in the service pack. However, they represent virtualization performance improvements that may be rather specialized for many IT departments. Dynamic Memory improves workloads on server farms, while RemoteFX helps push out three-dimensional video and bandwidth-heavy applications to thin client devices.

Microsoft is emphasizing that the beta of SP1 should not be deployed on production machines. Moreover, when the SP1 product is finally released, users will have to either uninstall the beta or perform a clean installation of Windows. They can't simply upgrade the installed beta.

The beta is scheduled to stop working on June 30, 2011. However, users will start getting warnings about its expiration on March 30, 2011, according to the FAQ.

The beta will work with evaluation versions of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, which last for 90 days. However, the beta will only install with the "release-to-manufacturing" version of those operating systems, otherwise identified as "build 7600."

Consumer Windows users don't really have to worry about SP1. It will be delivered automatically if they enabled automatic updates on their PCs through the Windows Update feature.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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