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Microsoft advances betas for Windows 7, Server R2 service packs

Bridget Botelho

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As expected, the second beta release for both Windows 7 SP1 and Windows

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Server 2008 R2 SP1 were made available at a Microsoft partner conference here this week, adding better deployment and management tools for virtual desktops -- and not much else.

Michael Cherry, an analyst with the independent firm Directions on Microsoft, runs Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and said these service packs aren't as critical as past service packs because both operating systems are "very solid."

"In other times in Windows' history, I had already reported issues and would have been frothing at the mouth waiting to get my hands on the first service pack by now," Cherry said. "That's not the case this time around."

In fact, the SP1 for Windows 7 doesn't actually include any new features; it is simply a combination of updates already available through Windows Update and additional hot fixes based on customer feedback, Microsoft said on its blog.

But desktop virtualisation users will want to get the SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 because it includes the VDI tools Microsoft first disclosed in March: the new virtual machine memory management feature (dynamic memory) and VDI protocol technologies (RemoteFX). The final SP1 version is due out in the first half of 2011.

Dynamic memory gives Hyper-V admins a way to pool available memory on a physical host and allocate it to VMs running on that host as needed, without service interruption. For VDI environments this means improved memory resource allocation on the back end, minimising the need for additional memory capacity.

RemoteFX is essentially a set of Remote Desktop Protocol technologies that delivers rich content to virtual desktops so end users can watch videos and graphics; it's similar to Citrix Systems' HDX technology or VMware's PCoIP.

Cloud computing was also a prevalent topic at the Worldwide Partner Conference. Microsoft launched the release candidate version of System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0, which helps administrators build cloud services on their internal Windows Server platforms. The company also announced the Windows Azure platform appliance, which lets customers run Azure in their own data centre.

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