Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Build 6.1.7601.16537 v.153 was leaked in the wild a little over a month ago and at that time, the bits came accompanied by documentation detailing the changes associated with the first major upgrade for the operating system. I did offer an overview of the evolution represented by Windows 7’s first service pack in April, but without going into all the details, reportedly coming from Microsoft. The Redmond company, of course, has yet to officially announce any changes for Windows 7 SP1, with two exceptions, the Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX features, or to confirm the leaked information.

However, the documents that made it outside of Redmond and into the wild alongside Build 6.1.7601.16537 v.153, do deliver an insight into the modifications planned for the service pack. Earlier this week, another early development milestone of Windows 7 SP1 was leaked. Build 7601.16556.100421-1510; Service Pack 1, v.172 is reported to be a candidate for the first fully-fledged Beta for Windows 7 SP1, by third-party sources, including Wzor, which shared the bits with the world.

Users that have jumped the gun and installed the leaked copies of Windows 7 SP1 are noting that they’re unable to notice differences compared to Build 7600 RTM. This is because modifications, when they do exist, are under-the-hood rather than on the surface of the OS. I have included an excerpt from the leaked “Notable Changes in Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2” documentation below in order to help end users understand just what Microsoft has planned for the future of the platform.

There are a few things, however, that must be underlined. First off, according to the leaked info, the details in the documentation have been updated last in March 2010. In this regard, all information needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as the features or changes it is describing might not actually make it into SP1. In addition, just as it was the case for Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2, Service Pack 1 will be released as a single package for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. This is why the same service pack will impact both platforms differently in some aspects, and in the same manner in others.

Changes specific to Windows Server 2008 R2

Dynamic Memory – Constraints on the allocation of physical memory represents one of the greatest challenges organizations face as they adopt new virtualization technology and consolidate their infrastructure. With Dynamic Memory, an enhancement to Hyper-V™ introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, organizations can now make the most efficient use of available physical memory, allowing them to realize the greatest possible potential from their virtualization resources. Dynamic Memory allows for memory on a host machine to be pooled and dynamically distributed to virtual machines as necessary. Memory is dynamically added or removed based on current workloads, and is done so without service interruption.

Dynamic Memory is supported on guest machines running Windows Server 2003 SP2 Datacenter or Enterprise editions, Windows Server 2008 SP1 Datacenter or Enterprise editions, Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter or Enterprise editions, Windows Vista SP2 Enterprise or Ultimate editions, and Windows 7 Enterprise or Ultimate editions.

RemoteFX – Businesses are increasingly looking to leverage the efficiency and cost savings that can come from a virtualized desktop infrastructure. With the addition of RemoteFX in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, a new set of remote user experience capabilities that enable a media-rich user environment for virtual desktops, session-based desktops and remote applications is introduced. Harnessing the power of virtualized graphics resources, RemoteFX can be deployed to a range of thick and thin client devices, enabling cost-effective, local-like access to graphics-intensive applications and a broad array of end user peripherals, improving productivity of remote users.

RemoteFX can function independently from specific graphics stacks and supports any screen content, including today’s most advanced applications and rich content (including Silverlight and Flash), ensuring that end users maintain a rich, local-like desktop experience even in a virtualized thin-client environment.

RemoteFX also adds mainstream USB device support to virtual desktop computing, including support for USB drives, cameras and PDAs connected to the client device. RemoteFX also provides a platform for hardware and software partners to enhance RemoteFX capabilities in a variety of possible host, client and network configurations.

Enhancements to scalability and high availability when using DirectAccess – DirectAccess is a new feature in the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems that gives users the experience of being seamlessly connected to their corporate network any time they have Internet access. In Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, improvements have been made to enhance scalability and high availability when using DirectAccess, through the addition of support for 6to4 and ISATAP addresses when using DirectAccess in conjunction with Network Load Balancing (NLB).

Support for Managed Service Accounts (MSAs) in secure branch office scenarios – SP1 enables enhanced support for managed service accounts (MSAs) to be used on domain-member services located in perimeter networks (also known as DMZs or extranets).

Support for increased volume of authentication traffic on domain controllers connected to high-latency networks – As a greater volume of IT infrastructure migrates to cloud-based services, there is a need for higher thresholds of authentication traffic to domain controllers located on high-latency networks (such as the public Internet). SP1 allows for more granular control of the maximum number of possible concurrent connections to a domain controller, enabling a greater degree of performance tuning for service providers.

Changes specific to Windows 7

Additional support for communication with third-party federation services – Additional support has been added to allow Windows 7 clients to effectively communicate with third-party identity federation services (those supporting the WS-Federation passive profile protocol). This change enhances platform interoperability, and improves the ability to communicate identity and authentication information between organizations.

Improved HDMI audio device performance – A small percentage of users have reported issues in which the connection between a computer running Windows 7 an HDMI audio device is lost after a system reboot. Updates have been incorporated into SP1 to ensure that connections between Windows 7 computers and HDMI audio devices are consistently maintained.

Corrected behavior when printing mixed-orientation XPS documents – Prior to the release of SP1, some customers have reported difficulty when printing mixed-orientation XPS documents (documents containing pages in both portrait and landscape orientation) using the XPS Viewer, resulting in all pages being printed entirely in either portrait or landscape mode. This issue has been addressed in SP1, allowing users to correctly print mixed-orientation documents using the XPS Viewer.

Changes common to both client and server platforms

More efficient power consumption – SP1 introduces functionality that enables user-mode use of the invariant Time Stamp Counter (TSC). When utilized by application workloads such as SQL Server, the invariant-TSC provides a high resolution multimedia timer (necessary for functionality such as OLTP, data warehouse processing, and so on) at far greater power efficiency than previously available alternatives.

Change to behavior of “Restore previous folders at logon” functionality – SP1 changes the behavior of the “Restore previous folders at logon” function available in the Folder Options Explorer dialog. Prior to SP1, previous folders would be restored in a cascaded position based on the location of the most recently active folder. SP1 changes that behavior so that all folders are restored to their previous position.

Enhanced support for additional identities in RRAS and IPsec- Support for additional identification types has been added to the Identification field in the IKEv2 authentication protocol. This allows for a variety of additional forms of identification (such as E-mail ID or Certificate Subject) to be used when performing authentication using the IKEv2 protocol.”

Development milestones

One piece of information that continues to elude users is related to the delivery timetable for Windows 7 SP1 development milestones. Although it opened up a little bit, with the first details for Windows 7 SP1 earlier this year, Microsoft has yet to point to any dates when it comes down to the availability of the service pack. The company hasn’t even said if SP1 was offered by the end of 2010 or not. At the same time, no deadlines were provided for the Beta and Release Candidate builds.

There is a schedule for the development of Windows 7 SP1 leaked by Wzor, but of course there’s no way of telling just how accurate it is. Build 7601.16556 v.172, for example, is considered a Beta Escrow release, meaning that Microsoft has frozen all development and is focusing on wrapping up the Beta of Windows 7. This could mean that the public might see a release of Windows 7 SP1 Beta soon, but of course, nothing is sure, especially not without any confirmation from Microsoft.

“4/14/2010 – Beta Release!
4/12/2010 – Beta Release to HTP RTM
4/14-6/11 – Beta Deployment and Feedback
5/10-5/21 – Win7 BTP
6/07/2010 – HTP RTW
5/17-6/11 – RC FTP
6/21/2010 – FORK RC.”

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