Microsoft released a white paper about the notable changes in Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. In this post I've summarized those enhancements. Except for RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory for Windows Server 2008 R2, there is nothing spectacular. However, in some environments some of the enhancements might prevent a few headaches.
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Windows 7 SP1 changes ^
Third-party federation services enhancements
Windows 7 SP1 offers additional support for communication with third-party federation services. The document does not give more details.
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) fix
This is not really a new feature but a bug fix. In some cases HDMI audio devices can be lost after system reboots. Windows 7 SP1 should fix this problem.
Printing mixed-orientation XPS documents fix
Windows 7 RTM appears to have problems with printing XPS documents that have both portrait and landscape orientation. Windows 7 SP1 is supposed to solve this problem.
Windows Servers 2008 R2 SP1 changes ^
Dynamic Memory allows your virtual Hyper-V machine to allocate additional physical memory during run time. This feature is comparable to dynamic disks. I covered Dynamic Memory in more detail already in a previous post.
RemoteFX will improve the user experience for graphics-intensive applications for Remote Desktop connections by harnessing virtualized graphics resources. I also described RemoteFX before. The acceptance of this feature will probably determine the future of VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure).
6to4 and ISATAP support for DirectAccess
DirectAccess is a new Windows 7 feature that allows users to establish a VPN connection without manually launching a VPN client. Windows 7 SP1 adds support for 6to4 and ISATAP (Intra-Site Automatic Tunnel Addressing Protocol), both of which are technologies used to transmit IPv6 packets over an IPv4 network.
Managed Service Accounts (MSAs) support for RODCs
Managed Service Accounts (MSAs) are Active Directory accounts for application services that run under the identity of a user account. Windows can change the passwords of MSAs automatically before they expire. In environments with Read-Only Domain Controllers (RODC), MSAs can cause problems. Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 fixes this problem. (This is how I understood this enhancement. Microsoft's paper only speaks of "branch office scenarios.")
Concurrent connections to a domain controller
According to Microsoft's paper, this Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 feature "allows for more granular control of the maximum number of possible concurrent connections to a domain controller." I am not sure what this means, exactly, because this Technet article indicates that this is already possible now. The background of this is that cloud-based services require higher thresholds of authentication traffic to domain controllers because of slow Internet connections. The current default limitations are supposed to prevent denial of service attacks.
Enhancements to failover clustering with storage
Microsoft's paper only says here that "improvements" have been made regarding storage that is shared between a subset of cluster nodes, but it does not specify what exactly has been improved. Sometimes I wish admins would write those papers and not product managers.
Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 changes ^
Restore previous folders at logon
The folder options of Windows Explorer offer this "Restore previous folders at logon" setting. In Windows 7 SP1, this feature restores Windows Explorer folders at the same positions before you rebooted. In Windows 7 RTM the folders were restored in a cascaded position.
Additional identities for IKEv2
The IKEv2 authentication protocol is used in IPSec and RRAS. Windows 7 SP1 supports additional identification forms (such as E-mail ID or Certificate Subject). No more details are available yet.
Support for Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX)
Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) is a future extension for Intel and AMD CPUs that is supposed to improve performance for floating point-intensive applications. I suppose the fact that Windows 7 SP1 supports AVX means that AVX CPUs will soon be available.
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You can find the direct download links for the beta of Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 here.