Windows 7 SP1 Beta Now Available

Microsoft announced a Service Pack 1 beta for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 starting July 12, during the first day of its annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC).

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Microsoft announced the availability of a Service Pack 1 beta for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 starting July 12, also the first day of the company's annual Worldwide Partner Conference.

The nearly weeklong WPC is a chance for Microsoft to tout the benefits of the company's partner network, and offer those 9,500 partners a wide variety of events such as hands-on labs. Microsoft is also using the conference to tout the consumer and business adoption of Windows 7, and encourage its partners to upgrade any systems still running the aged Windows XP.

Since Windows 7's general rollout in October 2009, Microsoft has been somewhat reluctant to confirm a release date for a Service Pack-perhaps because doing so would encourage some customers and businesses to hold off on a tech refresh. "Why do we need a Service Pack?" one Microsoft employee told eWEEK, half-jokingly, during this January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

In that spirit, apparently, the Windows 7 SP1 beta features only minor fixes, the majority of them already available through Windows Update. The Windows Server 2008 R2 tweaks include RemoteFX, which allows remote users to leverage 3D graphics and Silverlight animations, and Dynamic Memory.

The releases are in line with Microsoft's earlier prediction, made during the company's TechEd 2010 conference, that Windows 7 SP1 would make an appearance in July.

"Enterprise business customers are not waiting for SP1 to migrate to Windows 7," Tami Reller, corporate vice president of Windows and Windows Live, told the audience during a series of keynote speeches in Washington, D.C.'s Verizon Center.

Despite a high rate of consumer adoption for Windows 7, business spending on Microsoft software has only just started to revive following years of global recession.

Microsoft executives have been using the WPC as a platform for another announcement. During a keynote at the Verizon Center July 12, Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft's Server & Tools Business, unveiled Windows Azure Platform Appliance, a service that brings Windows Azure's cloud-development capabilities to a company's data center. He also offered a launch date of fourth-quarter 2010 for the project code-named Dallas, which allows companies to pull together cloud and enterprise data to make more informed decisions.

The cloud is at the center of the WPC this year, but Windows 7 nonetheless remains the company's flagship platform.