Final Test for Windows Server 2008, 7 Service Packs

by Stuart J. Johnston

Microsoft is nearly ready to release the first service pack for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7.

More on Windows Server 2008 R2

Microsoft passed another milestone for its core Windows operating systems line this week as it announced that the joint service pack (SP) for Windows Server 2008 Release 2 (R2) and Windows 7 has now reached the "release candidate," or RC, stage.

Unlike most service packs, this one adds a pair of new features to the server in an effort to improve support for virtualization.

The RC is the last phase of testing before any Microsoft product is released to the public.

One of the reasons why the RC stage is important is because many IT decision makers traditionally wait for the release of the first service pack before deploying a new Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) operating system.

Over the years, the release of SP1 for a new Windows version has become a sort of seal of approval that certifies that the early rough spots have been smoothed out and the last of the remaining major bugs have been patched. Indeed, many IT professionals feel it's just prudent to wait until the SP arrives before beginning large scale deployments.

In fact, Microsoft's developers may be slightly ahead of schedule, having begun some beta testing of the SPs in June, although formal testing began in late July.

As recently as last week, Microsoft officials were still officially saying SP1 would be released in the first half of 2011. In a post to the Windows Server Division Blog, Tuesday, Microsoft modified that slightly.

"Expect to see Service Pack 1 released in its final form during first quarter 2011," the post said.

Service packs primarily deliver all of the bug fixes, security patches and other important code changes that have come out since the product was released, or since the last SP, all in a single installation.

Since the major point of an SP is to bolster the product's stability, reliability and security, rarely do service packs add new features.

SP1, however, is an exception -- at least as far as Windows Server 2008 R2 goes. SP1 supports both Windows 7 as well as Server 2008 R2 because they share the same code base. However, SP1 has two new virtualization-centric additions added especially for Server 2008 R2 -- Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX.

Dynamic Memory is designed to let servers running Hyper-V (Microsoft's hypervisor) for server virtualization to make more effective use of memory -- letting administrators throttle memory usage without creating performance problems, for instance.

Meanwhile, RemoteFX provides 3D graphics support for remote users.

"RemoteFX can be deployed to a range of thick and thin client devices, enabling cost-effective, local-like access to graphics-intensive applications," the post said. "RemoteFX also supports a broad array of USB peripherals to improve the productivity of users of virtual desktops."

Further information about SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 is available on Microsoft's site.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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This article was originally published on Wednesday Oct 27th 2010
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