Microsoft on Wednesday announced the release to manufacturing (RTM) of the first service pack for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Though this is a major milestone for both OSs, SP1 adds no significant new features to Windows 7 but instead mostly consists of an aggregation of previously released fixes. On Server 2008 R2, however, SP1 adds two major new features that expand the product's virtualization capabilities.
If you're curious about how SP1 will impact Windows 7, I provided a preview of this release on the SuperSite for Windows about a month ago. And although there are no major new features or user-experience changes, Microsoft did add a number of small changes, including an updated version of Remote Desktop Services, better support for third-party federation services, improved HDMI audio device performance, and minor XPS document fixes.
On Server 2008 R2, the changes are more profound, and SP1 adds two major new features to the product:
RemoteFX. A significant advance to Microsoft's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) capabilities, RemoteFX allows you to utilize a GPU in the server to deliver rich desktop experiences on ultra-thin desktop hardware. These experiences include hardware-accelerated media playback, Direct3D animation, and more. To the client OS, it appears that the system has dedicated 3D graphics hardware.
Dynamic Memory. A new feature of the Hyper-V virtualization role in Server 2008 R2, Dynamic Memory dramatically increases the possible virtual machine (VM) density—that is, the number of VMs that a particular server can accommodate simultaneously—without affecting performance or scalability. Dynamic Memory essentially partitions available memory resources to VMs on the fly, without any interaction or tweaking from the administrator.
Microsoft says that it has delivered SP1 to its hardware partners so that they can begin incorporating the code into their products. On February 16, SP1 will be made available to Microsoft's volume-licensing customers, and to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet subscribers. SP1 will become available publicly on February 22, via Windows Update, through manual downloads, and pre-installed on new PCs and servers.
My review of SP1 will be available on the SuperSite for Windows this month.