Public beta of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 now available
At its Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, Microsoft has announced, a little earlier than scheduled, the release of the first beta version of Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. It's available in English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish and updates both Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2, which are both based on the same kernel.
Service Pack 1 will include all patches previously released via Windows Update and several additional hot-fixes. There is no new functionality for Windows 7, although interaction between Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 sees the addition of features including RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory. Further details about those features can be found on the Microsoft server division blog.
Microsoft is expressly not making the pre-release version available to home users and will not support it in any way. As with all pre-release versions, use in production environments and on mission critical systems is not advised. It will also not be possible to install the final finished service pack over the beta, although it should be possible to uninstall the beta and then update to the final version. The beta expires on 30th June 2011, and will notify users of the impending expiry date from 30th March 2011.
To download the pre-release version, you will first have to overcome the usual Microsoft hurdles. Firstly, you'll need a Windows Live ID. Once logged in, to proceed you need to answer the question "which best describes your activity" with 'Developer' or 'IT manager'. Answering 'consumer', 'student' or 'technology enthusiast' will get you booted out. Next you should check your personal details, enter your operating system and select your reason for downloading the beta. Finally you have the choice of installing the SP1 beta via Windows Update or downloading an ISO DVD image. Because the website tries to install an unsigned Akamai download manager prior to downloading, in our tests both only worked when we used Internet Explorer with the default set-up. Under Firefox, we found ourselves instead redirected to the Windows 7 web site.
The download manager then does one of two things – either it downloads a small (a few KB) program onto the hard drive, which then prepares Windows Update so that it finds the pre-release version of SP1 when instructed to search for updates, or it downloads a 1.2 GB ISO image which contains x64, x86 and Itanium versions of SP1. There will not be a Slipstream version (Windows DVD with SP1 beta included). According to Microsoft, the final version of Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 will be released in the first half of 2011.