Although Microsoft doesn’t normally deliver support for pre-release software, there are exceptions to this rule, and an update designed to resolve issues related to Taskbar functionality in Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 is an illustrative example in this regard.

The Redmond company also offers support for pre-RTM products when it comes down to patching Critical security vulnerabilities that would put users at risk from attacks and exploits.

However, the update released in the second half of August 2010 is not intended to patch a security flaw.

Instead “this update addresses an issue in which the thumbnail controls for some applications are not displayed on the taskbar. After you install this update, you may have to restart your system,” Microsoft stated.

According to the little information provided by the software giant, the refresh is capable of enabling “the thumbnail controls of certain applications to be displayed correctly on the taskbar in Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2.”

And although the company doesn’t mention Windows 7 SP1 Beta and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta in the Knowledge Base article, the releases on the Microsoft Download Center reveal that early adopters running the public Beta of the first upgrade for the two platforms should also deploy the update.

Windows 7 SP1 Beta was released to testers in the first half of July 2010, and continues to be available for download to the public.

As it released Windows 7 SP1 Beta, Microsoft made it clear that it planned to wrap up and deliver the RTM bits of the service pack in the first half of 2011, most probably in the first quarter of next year, rather than by the end of 2010, as previously speculated.

Following the release of Windows 7 Service Pack (SP1) Beta Build 7601.16562.100603-1800, work on the upgrade continued, with Microsoft having reportedly released a new interim version of the service pack to TAP and OEMs.

The software giant confirmed that Windows 7 SP1 Beta Refresh Build 7601.17077 indeed shipped to a select pool of testers.

Windows 7 Service Pack (SP1) Beta Build 7601.16562.100603-1800 is available for download here.

Here are the download links for KB2259539:

All supported x86-based versions of Windows 7

All supported x64-based versions of Windows 7

All supported x64-based versions of Windows Server 2008 R2

All supported IA-64-based versions of Windows Server 2008 R2

Unlike Windows Vista RTM, which delivered an extremely poor application compatibility experience to end users, the evolution to Windows 7 is causing extremely few apps to break when installed or run on top of the new operating system. But with exceptions to every rule, Windows 7 does fail to play nice with a small number of programs. This is why Microsoft periodically kicks up a notch the platform, updating it in order to resolve various problems reported by customers. Case in point: the February 2010 Application Compatibility Update.

“The Windows Application Compatibility Update is a software update that improves the compatibility experience,” Microsoft explained. The company notes that the update is designed to integrate with not only Windows 7, but also Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2), Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 (SP2), and Windows Server 2008 R2.

“When you try to install and run certain legacy games or applications in Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2), in Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 (SP2), in Windows 7, and in Windows Server 2008 R2, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms: the game, the application, or the firmware is installed incorrectly. More »

Microsoft has made a fix available for an issue affecting Windows 7 customers that also use fingerprint biometric device and applications leveraging the Windows Biometric Framework. According to the Redmond company, in certain scenarios, namely on restart or when putting the Windows 7 machine to sleep or in hibernation, users can come across a stop error message. “This problem occurs because requests on the pipe to the device are not cleaned up or are canceled,” the software giant stated.

The Redmond company failed to mention the fingerprint biometric devices and the WBF apps that fail to play nice with Windows 7. However, the software giant has already taken the necessary measures to help customers deal with eventual problems.

A hotfix can be grabbed from Microsoft Support, and is available not just for customers running the latest iteration of Windows client, but also for those with Windows Server 2008 R2. However, as is the general care for hotfix releases, the company underlines that only users affected by the problem described below should download and deploy the hotfix.

“Consider the following scenario: You have a computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2. You connect a fingerprint biometric device to this computer. More »

When you run your thumb down the list of new features and improvements in Windows 7 (see the feature comparison chart at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/compare), you’re bound to wonder how you’re going to get your arms around all that new technology so that you can deliver it to your users without too much disruption.
Following are 10 steps that can help you accomplish that goal.

1. Get to know Windows 7 on a first-name basis.

Obviously, the first step is to gain personal experience. And that means more than just puttering around in the lab. Install Windows 7 on every workstation in your organization and on the machine you use at home for remote-access trouble calls. Force yourself to find ways to make everything work.

Most tools for managing Windows servers from Windows 7 are included in the Windows 7 Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT), which must be downloaded separately. At this writing, the final RSAT package hasn’t been finalized. The release candidate is available at here. More »

Keeping Windows 7 and Windows Vista running under normal parameters takes much more work than is done in Redmond alone. Fact is that the ecosystems of software and hardware products designed to integrate with the Windows clients have to do this seamlessly, especially when dealing with solutions that hook into the core of the operating system. Driver update failures for example, can easily cripple Windows 7 and Windows Vista, causing the two platforms to no longer start.

“This problem may occur if any one of the following conditions is true: The new device or the driver causes conflicts with other drivers that are installed on the computer. A hardware-specific issue occurs. The driver that is installed is damaged,” Microsoft explained.

In case you performed a driver update for a device component of your computer and Windows 7 and Vista are acting up, then your best choice to resolve the matter is to roll back the changes. Reverting the driver update will cause the issues introduced by the refresh to go away. First you will need to boot into Windows.
More »