Hey guys, you can now get an early look at the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 beta through the CARE program.

This is a combined Service Pack for both the Client and Server OS platforms.  Inside the SP, there are some changes specific to Windows 7, some for Server and then some common updates that apply to both.  Here is a summary of those (sorry it is a little long)

Changes Specific to Windows 7
Additional support for communication with third-party federation services

Additional support has been added to allow Windows 7 clients to effectively communicate with third-party identity federation services (those supporting the WS-Federation passive profile protocol). This change enhances platform interoperability, and improves the ability to communicate identity and authentication information between organizations.
Improved HDMI audio device performance
A small percentage of users have reported issues in which the connection between computers running Windows 7 and HDMI audio devices can be lost after system reboots. Updates have been incorporated into SP1 to ensure that connections between Windows 7 computers and HDMI audio devices are consistently maintained.
Corrected behavior when printing mixed-orientation XPS documents
Prior to the release of SP1, some customers have reported difficulty when printing mixed-orientation XPS documents (documents containing pages in both portrait and landscape orientation) using the XPS Viewer, resulting in all pages being printed entirely in either portrait or landscape mode. This issue has been addressed in SP1, allowing users to correctly print mixed-orientation documents using the XPS Viewer.

Changes specific to Windows Server 2008 R2
Dynamic Memory

Constraints on the allocation of physical memory represents one of the greatest challenges organizations face as they adopt new virtualization technology and consolidate their infrastructure. With Dynamic Memory, an enhancement to Hyper-V™ introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, organizations can now make the most efficient use of available physical memory, allowing them to realize the greatest possible potential from their virtualization resources. Dynamic Memory allows for memory on a host machine to be pooled and dynamically distributed to virtual machines as necessary. Memory is dynamically added or removed based on current workloads, and is done so without service interruption.
Virtual machines running a wide variety of operating systems can use Dynamic Memory; for a complete list, see the “Dynamic Memory Evaluation Guide”  The guide also discusses Dynamic Memory settings and usage in detail.
Microsoft RemoteFX
Businesses are increasingly looking to leverage the efficiency and cost savings that can come from a virtualized desktop infrastructure. With the addition of Microsoft RemoteFX in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, a new set of remote user experience capabilities that enable a media-rich user environment for virtual desktops, session-based desktops and remote applications is introduced. Harnessing the power of virtualized graphics resources, RemoteFX can be deployed to a range of thick and thin client devices, enabling cost-effective, local-like access to graphics-intensive applications and a broad array of end user peripherals, improving productivity of remote users.
RemoteFX can function independently from specific graphics stacks and supports any screen content, including today’s most advanced applications and rich content (including Silverlight and Adobe Flash), ensuring that end users maintain a rich, local-like desktop experience even in a virtualized thin-client environment.
Enhancements to scalability and high availability when using DirectAccess
DirectAccess is a new feature in the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems that gives users the experience of being seamlessly connected to their corporate network any time they have Internet access. In Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, improvements have been made to enhance scalability and high availability when using DirectAccess, through the addition of support for 6to4 and ISATAP addresses when using DirectAccess in conjunction with Network Load Balancing (NLB).
Support for Managed Service Accounts (MSAs) in secure branch office scenarios
SP1 enables enhanced support for managed service accounts (MSAs) to be used on domain-member services located in perimeter networks (also known as DMZs or extranets).
Enhancements to Failover Clustering with Storage
SP1 enables enhanced support for how Failover Clustering works with storage that is not visible for all cluster nodes. In SP1, improvements have been made to the Cluster Validation and multiple Failover Cluster Manager wizards to allow workloads to use disks that are shared between a subset of cluster nodes.

Changes common to both client and server platforms
Change to behavior of “Restore previous folders at logon” functionality
SP1 changes the behavior of the “Restore previous folders at logon” function available in the Folder Options Explorer dialog. Prior to SP1, previous folders would be restored in a cascaded position based on the location of the most recently active folder. That behavior changes in SP1 so that all folders are restored to their previous positions.
Enhanced support for additional identities in RRAS and IPsec
Support for additional identification types has been added to the Identification field in the IKEv2 authentication protocol. This allows for a variety of additional forms of identification (such as E-mail ID or Certificate Subject) to be used when performing authentication using the IKEv2 protocol.
Support for Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX)
There has always been a growing need for ever more computing power and as usage models change, processors instruction set architectures evolve to support these growing demands. Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) is a 256 bit instruction set extension for processors. AVX is designed to allow for improved performance for applications that are floating point intensive. Support for AVX is a part of SP1 to allow applications to fully utilize the new instruction set and register extensions.

Some resources for you:

  • Documentation about the Service Pack can be found here
  • Windows 7 Support forum can be found here
  • You can download the beta through this landing page

me15Jeff Wettlaufer
Sr Technical Product Manager
System Center, Management and Security Division