We're at the sold out Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C. talking to our partners about the public beta release today of Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. 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. The final version of SP1 is due out in the first half of next year.

For partners, we think there is great opportunity here to continue evangelizing the benefits that Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 already deliver while noting for customers that it only gets better when final code for SP1 is released. For example, if you're a distributor, there's a great opportunity to grow your business by selling more server and desktop licenses with virtualization solutions based on Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. If you're a VAR, you can improve software and solutions sales built on Microsoft software, including Windows Server 2008 R2, with offerings that utilize virtualization and integration with Windows 7.  If you're an ISV, you can increase your sales and reduce development time by building apps and solutions for the virtualized environment on Windows Server 2008 R2. And if you are a hardware partner, you can increase sales by creating solutions for customers, in particular in the area of desktop virtualization with solutions that take advantage of Microsoft RemoteFX. For partner-related news around RemoteFX, please check out Max's blog.

The two most important developments in SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 are:

Dynamic memory lets Hyper-V administrators pool available memory on a physical host and dynamically distribute it to any virtual machine(s) running on that host. So as the workloads on that physical workload change, requiring more or less memory, Dynamic Memory will let administrators change the memory allocation to their VMs without service interruption. For a deeper look at Dynamic Memory check here.

RemoteFX enhances Microsoft desktop virtualization. RemoteFX lets Windows Server 2008 R2 administrators provide an even richer and user-transparent desktop virtualization experience. RemoteFX delivers rich content, independent of any graphics stack, to server-hosted virtual and session-based desktops, allowing them to support any screen content, including full-motion video, portable graphics stacks such as Silverlight, and 3D applications. Because it can use virtualized graphics on the server and advanced codecs , RemoteFX can deliver those experiences to a much wider array of target devices, including standard desktops and laptops but also an emerging slew of thin clients. You'll also be able to forward the USB ports of the local client to the virtual machine being accessed on the device - just like you can forward the local printer over RDP today.

Make sure you check out the new SP1 Beta Resource page on Microsoft.com as well as the TechNet SP1 page -- and don't forget to grab the download here

Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 is a great value-add for anyone running the latest Windows Server, but especially folks leveraging Hyper-V and Remote Desktop Services. Definitely worth the evaluation effort for these folks, so I encourage you to download the code and try it out. And as always, we welcome your feedback.

Oliver Rist

Sr. Product Manager

Windows Server Marketing