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Yesterday Microsoft announced that Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 have been released to manufacturing. If you haven't yet dealt with the service pack, it is now time to inform yourself about it. In this article, I will summarize some basic facts and link to resources where you can get some in-depth information about SP1.
Windows 7 SP1 download ^
Microsoft partners have already received the SP1. Thus it is quite likely that you can download leaked versions from the Internet. I don't have to tell you that such unofficial downloads are always risky because they may contain malware. Thus you had better wait until Microsoft offers Windows 7 SP1 for download. The public download will be available on February 22; TechNet and MSDN subscribers will be able to download Windows 7 SP1 on February 16.
Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 new features ^
I have already summarized what's new in Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 a few months ago. The official Windows 7 SP1 page has some additional information. For Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, you should check out the reviewer's guide (PDF), which is quite comprehensive with 26 pages. The main new features in this service pack are certainly RemoteFx and Dynamic Memory for Hyper-V.
Hyper-V Dynamic Memory resources ^
Dynamic Memory allows you to increase the memory of Hyper-V VMs dynamically during run time. A good start is to read my introduction to Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX, and this Comparison of Hyper-V Dynamic Memory and VMware Overcommit will clarify the concept. If you would like to learn how you can actually use Dynamic Memory, I recommend this article at VirtualizationAdmin.com.
Checking out Microsoft's Hyper-V Dynamic Memory Evaluation Guide is certainly also a good way to get started. Microsoft's latest blog post relates Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) to Dynamic Memory, and the Microsoft Infrastructure blog has a link list of articles about Dynamic Memory. Related to this topic is Paul Schnackenburg's series about Hyper-V performance tuning.
RemoteFX resources ^
RemoteFX is supposed to improve user experience in RDP sessions. I think the success of VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) depends a lot on how good this new feature really is. I already linked to my RemoteFX intro above, but it can't be wrong to link to it again. 🙂 You might also want to have a look at Microsoft's explanation. Brian Madden's in-depth guide to RemoteFX is a must-read for everyone who wants to dig a bit deeper.
Windows 7 SP1 significance ^
In my opinion, RemoteFx and Dynamic Memory are the only important new features in this service pack. Of course, the main reason why you will want to deploy SP1 is because it contains all of the updates since the release of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Considering that there have been quite a few "monster patch days" lately, the number of hotfixes in this service pack could reach a new record.
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If you are a "traditionalist admin" who always waits for the release of the first service pack before you deploy a new Windows version, then you might feel confirmed. However, I think that Windows 7 RTM was one of the most reliable Windows releases. This is probably due to the fact that Windows 7 is essentially a service pack for Windows Vista. Thus Windows 7 SP1 essentially is than Windows Vista SP3. 😉