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MS springs service pack preview of Windows 7

Thumbs nose at 'tech enthusiasts'

Microsoft released its first Service Pack 1 public betas for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 yesterday at its annual partner shindig.

“We managed to get this puppy out the door a few weeks early, so take advantage and download the code to evaluate the new features and benefits that SP1 can provide for server and desktop installations,” said the company’s Windows Server Product Manager Oliver Rist.

As is typical with such a release, Microsoft has warned customers not to install the beta preview, instead preferring that the tech community play around with the beta for now.

However, the fact that it is public means anyone can now get their hands on the Windows 7 SP1 preview. MS tries to prevent world+dog from downloading the betas by first getting them to confirm their techie status. If a customer ticks the “Tech enthusiast” box, for example, then access is blocked.

But that’s extremely easy to work around. A customer simply needs to tick “IT manager”, “IT worker” or “IT developer” to grab the code.

Redmond noted on its website that the early releases of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 betas don’t come loaded with fancy “end-user features” and cautioned that installation of the preview software would not be supported by Microsoft.

The software vendor said in June that it planned to push out the first SP1 betas this month. It confirmed in March this year that the service packs were on their way for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

“The final version of SP1 is due out in the first half of next year,” said Rist yesterday, which means that we were bang on the money about when customers can expect the first service pack for the products.

There’s nothing terribly exciting about the forthcoming service packs. In the main they will come with minor security updates and other fixes.

Windows 7 SP1 and servers running Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 get the new RemoteFX feature, which delivers Direct3D acceleration to users on thin clients.

And purely on the server-side, Microsoft has slotted Dynamic Memory - or on-the-fly adjustment of the memory allocation of running virtual machines - into the WS2008R2 service pack for those using Hyper-V virtualisation.

The English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish-only editions of the betas are available for either 32- or 64-bit versions of the respective operating systems and can be grabbed over at the Windows Update website.

Meanwhile, Windows XP - the OS workhorse that refuses to die - got its downgrade rights extended by a decade yesterday when Microsoft acknowledged its ongoing popularity among customers who never had any intention of installing the company's clunky Vista nag. ®

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