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Microsoft is giving users of Windows Vista and Windows XP Professional software extra time to put off their migration to Windows 7.

Before today, Microsoft said that after the release of the first Windows 7 Service Pack – which hit beta today and is due in the first half of 2011 – customers buying Windows 7 would no longer be able to downgrade to Vista and XP. But the company has now removed the deadline.

"Going forward, businesses can continue to purchase new PCs and utilize end user downgrade rights to Windows XP or Windows Vista until they are ready to use Windows 7," Microsoft Windows communications manager Brandon LeBlanc blogged here.

The change comes as Microsoft pitched partners hard at its annual Worldwide Partner Conference on Windows 7. The message was that Windows 7 is Microsoft's most successful operating system ever, so bet on it and sell more.

At WPC, Microsoft drew heavily on analysts' numbers to predict new sales of Windows 7 in business.

Microsoft closed its financial year on June 30 so we're waiting to see how well Windows 7 sold to date. Up until March, there were signs that there was a lot of work left to do despite operating system's newness: revenue for Microsoft's Windows client business was lagging compared to the same period during 2009 — that was before Windows 7 officially launched.

One factor could be chief operating officer Kevin Turner's fervent belief in discounting — of which there's been plenty on Windows 7 — in the name of building market share and charging people more down the line.

Companies with which The Reg has spoken to in the last year, while enthusiastic about Windows 7, have been unable to upgrade for financial reasons: the budget's not been there. There have also been concerns about application compatibility. Last we checked, the second half of this year was when rollouts and pilots were set to begin for many.

Extending the downgrade option on Windows 7 means that Microsoft can still claim the Windows 7 sale and feed the operating system into the customer base, while letting customers continue to use the software they like until they're ready to move.

With businesses are apparently still pushing out Windows 7 slowly, the operating systems' first SP is a joint effort that focuses mostly on its server companion, Windows Server 2008 R2.

SP1 for Windows 7 is a wrap of updates available through Microsoft's Windows Update service combined with hotfixes based on feedback Microsoft said it has received from customers and partners.

Instead, SP1 updates dynamic memory for the server and RemoteFX for delivery of media to the client.

Dynamic memory is designed to let Hyper-V administrators pool available memory on a physical host and distribute it on any virtual machine on that host. The idea is to let admins change memory allocation without interrupting the service. RemoteFX lets the Windows Server deliver rich media such as full-motion video, portable graphics, and 3D applications to a client without overloading the client's capabilities.

You can download the beta here. ®

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