Microsoft is assembling the group of testers who will receive the first beta of Service Pack (SP) 1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 in July.
The company has begun sending invitations to those it plans to include in the testing program. According to the invitations, the beta bits will be in English, German, Japanese, French and Spanish.
At Microsoft's TechEd conference last week, officials said to expect the beta of SP1 in July. (I'm hearing it will be delivered in mid-July, the same time Microsoft holds its Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, DC.) The rumored final release data for SP1 (not confirmed by Microsoft officially) is Q4 2010.
Officials said earlier this year that SP1 for Windows 7 won't include any new features; it will be a rollup of fixes. SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 will include both fixes and two new features. The new features include a new graphics acceleration platform, known as RemoteFX, that is based on desktop-remoting technology that Microsoft obtained in 2008 when it acquired Calista Technologies. There also will be a new addition to Hyper-V that will dynamically adjust memory of a guest virtual machine on demand.
Here's the invitation (with a word tweak or two, for clarity's sake) that Microsoft is sending to potential SP1 testers:
You are receiving this invitation based on the quality of feedback you have provided on previous Windows programs and the Microsoft Windows release team would like you to participate in the Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) release program, to be available shortly, as announced at the Microsoft's TechEd conference.
Accepting this invitation will allow you to access pre-release versions of the Service Pack for the purposes of validating the release readiness. We highly value your past feedback and know we can count on you again to help us build a great new version of Windows!
The SP1 release version is not available quite yet but we need to assemble a great team of program peers early so you are ready to go when we are! If you accept this invitation you’ll be notified when the release version becomes available.
What you will get if you choose to participate
• Early access to downloadable Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 releases
• Access to private newsgroups to share information about the release with other program peers and with Microsoft staff
• The ability to report bugs and track their status
• An opportunity to help us build a better Windows by validating the release readiness
What we will ask of you if you choose to participate
• Download and install Windows 7 SP1 or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 on at least one PC each
• File bugs if you encounter them as well as respond to surveys as you can.
• Validation we are seeking
o Set-up and installation
o Application Experience/Compatibility
o Device Experience/Compatibility
• We ask that you actively participate in discussions on the newsgroups and share your opinions with us and others
Things you should know about Windows 7 and the beta program
• The bits will be available in English, German, Japanese, French and Spanish.
• The beta is conducted in English (feedback / bug reports should be in English).
• Availability will be via download only of the SP1 update. You will need access to a PC with Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 already installed
• PCs that support and run Windows 7 should allow you to run Windows 7 SP1.
• Servers that support and run Windows Server 2008 R2 should allow you to run Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
We appreciate your help in developing and releasing a high-quality Service Pack release for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, there will not be any free gift for participating in this program.
While the release is not quite available now, we know you are excited to get started so we have opened the newsgroups so you may begin renewing contacts with previous participants as well as meeting new testing peers. After accepting the invitation, you will be able to sign into Microsoft Connect and go to the “Windows 7 SP1 Beta" for more information on the newsgroups.
The team would like to thank you in advance for helping make this our best SP release to date and we look forward to your validation!
The Windows Customer Connection Team
Microsoft officials are continuing to stress that customers don't need to wait for SP1 to deploy the latest versions of Windows client and server. They said the same with Windows Vista, but that message fell (mostly) on deaf ears. This time around, it seems more businesses are moving ahead without waiting for the delivery of SP1 -- a milestone upon which many corporations timed their deployments in the past.