Windows 7 Service Pack 1 announced

Just six months after its original release, Microsoft has already announced the first Service Pack for Windows 7, as well as Windows Server 2008 R2.

There’s no need to get excited, though, as it looks as though the new Windows 7 Service Pack isn’t going to introduce any major new features.

On the Windows Team Blog, Microsoft Brandon LeBlanc explained that the new Service Pack “includes only minor updates.” Some of these, according to LeBlanc, are also “previous updates that are already delivered through Windows Update.”

That doesn’t mean that everything in the Service Pack will have been previously released via Windows Update, but it probably means that we’re not going to get any ground-breaking goodies in the new pack. According to the Windows Server Division Weblog, we can expect detailed information regarding the new Service Packs to appear over the next few months.

LeBlanc did reveal one new feature of the Windows 7 Service Pack, however, which is that it will “deliver an updated Remote Desktop client that takes advantage of RemoteFX introduced in the server-side with SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2.” According to Microsoft, RemoteFX will “enable users of virtual desktops and applications to receive a rich 3D, multimedia experience while accessing information remotely.”

Using a virtualised graphics system, RemoteFX enables a virtual desktop to bypass the standard graphics stack and happily playback multimedia content, such as Flash and Silverlight. RemoteFX forms a big part of Microsoft’s new desktop virtualisation strategy, which the company unveiled yesterday.

However, another interesting new feature of the strategy is that Windows 7’s XP Mode (found in the Business and Ultimate Editions) will no longer require hardware virtualisation technology. Theoretically, this means that you will be able to enable the mode on any CPU that can run Windows 7, including chips such as the Core 2 Quad 8200, which don’t feature hardware virtualisation technology.

According to Microsoft, “this change simplifies the experience by making virtualisation more accessible to many more PCs for small and mid-size businesses wanting to migrate to Windows 7 Professional or higher editions, while still running Windows XP-based productivity applications.”

You can find out more about Microsoft’s new desktop virtualisation strategy in this webcast, which also features a shameless bland rip-off of U2’s Pride (In the Name of Love) at the beginning.