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Service pack expected to bring USB 3.0 support, RemoteFX, and various virtualization tweaks

It's no secret that Microsoft is following a more aggressive development schedule, which the wild success of Windows 7 can be partially contributed to.  The company is rumored to launch the successor, Windows 8, sometime late next year.  In the meantime, it's hard at work making the first Service Pack for Windows 7.  Windows 7 SP1 leaked back in April in very early form.

At the Tech-Ed conference today, Bob Muglia, President of Microsoft's server and tools business, announced two new features to arrive in Windows SP1: new virtualization tools and support of 3-D graphics over remote connections, called RemoteFX.

As Microsoft follows a less frequent release schedule than competitor Apple's OS X, Service Packs are a vital way to deliver new functionality and to package together bug fixes that have been delivered separately through Windows update.  The new functionality is handy to all customers, and the packaged fixes are handy to system administrators and system builders.

Windows 7 SP1 is no exception.  It's expected to collect many security patches and performance improvements.  Additionally it's widely expected to deliver Bluetooth and Wi-Fi optimizations.  And perhaps most importantly, it's expected to finally add support for the USB 3.0 standard.

Muglia did not discuss these points in detail.  But he did mention that the new Service Pack will come with virtualization tools to make cloud computing more approachable.  RemoteFX is a key part of this vision.  With RemoteFX, companies can deploy cheap thin clients (computers) that talk to the cloud.  Previously such clients were confined to a drab visual look, due to resource limitations.  RemoteFX uses host-side rendering to allow richer graphical environments complete with multiple displays, Aero and multimedia streaming.  This is similar to capabilities of the X Server in Linux (Linux users can use the "ssh -Y" command to tunnel host-rendered programs).

Microsoft senior director Gavriella Schuster followed Muglia's comments with a blog stating, "SP1 will simply be the combination of updates already available through Windows Update and additional hotfixes based on feedback by our customers and partners. In other words, customers can feel confident about deploying Windows 7 now!"

The company has reportedly bumped the beta of Windows 7 SP1 and it's sister server OS's first Service Pack, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, from June to the end of July.  Windows Vista currently has two released Service Packs, while Windows XP has seen the release of three Service Packs.





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