Both the 32-bit and the 64-bit flavors of a post-Beta Build of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) have now been leaked in the wild.

It all started at the beginning of October 2010 when the first report of Windows 7 SP1 Build 7601.17104 was published.

At that time, a third-party source was claiming that Microsoft was very close to wrapping up the first Release Candidate development milestone of Windows 7 SP1.

In this regard, Build 7601.17104 is reportedly the RC-Escrow which means that the software giant is indeed close to moving beyond the Beta, and that it is simply making sure that the Build which will be offered as RC meets quality standards and does not include regression issues.

Last week, the 32-bit version of Windows 7 SP1 pre-RC Build 7601.17104 was leaked and made available for download in the wild through torrent trackers. More »

Microsoft is helping Windows 7 customers deal with poor startup performance in the context in which they have at least one external SATA port that is not used.

The Redmond company has confirmed an issue related to the latest iteration of the Windows client, in which customers can experience sluggish boot times on computers that have an unused external SATA port.

And while the software giant is not offering affected users an update to resolve the issue, it is providing them with a hotfix which can be downloaded from Microsoft Support.

“You experience a long startup time on a Windows 7-based computer that has an unused external SATA port,” reads Microsoft’s description of the problem.

For those not familiar with SATA, the acronym stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, and is essentially a consumer mass storage interconnect designed for the ATA command protocol. More »

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

Although it is currently cooking Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), Microsoft continues to ensure that the latest version of its Windows client continues to evolve even ahead of the upgrade planned for the first half of 2011.

Case in point, two application compatibility updates offered by the Redmond company to customers this week.

Accompanying the updates are two knowledge base articles, including KB 2272691 (Application Compatibility Update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: August 2010).

In addition, the software giant also released KB 982110 (The QueryPathOfRegTypeLib function does not return the correct path for a 32-bit version of an application in a 64-bit edition of Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2). More »

Microsoft has warned users of the attest iteration of its Windows client and server platforms that they could experience problems related to their machines, when the OS stops responding for no apparent reason.

According to the Redmond company, the problems reported by customers do not fit any pattern, and appear to happen at random.

Fortunately enough, the software giant already has a solution for the problem available to affected customers running Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

“A computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 stops responding randomly,” Microsoft stated.

“Applications or services that are running on the computer stop working correctly. Additionally, you cannot log on to the computer by using the remote desktop connection utility,” the company explained. More »