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SP1 Roadmap for Windows Server 2008 R2 Unveiled

Microsoft last week announced virtualization and other improvements coming with Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7.

SP1 will be available by the end of July. As mentioned in March, it will include two management capabilities. One addition, called RemoteFX technology, will support remote three-dimensional user experiences on client devices in conjunction with Windows Server 2008 R2. The other addition, dynamic memory, will let IT pros allocate pools of memory in Hyper-V that can shift across different virtual machines in response to workload changes.

Microsoft also announced that it plans to release a new beta of the Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) solution, called "v2 beta," which will be available in the fourth quarter of this year. Microsoft Technical Adoption Program participants can get involved earlier by signing up for the beta in mid-June, according to an MDOP blog post.

The MED-V v2 beta, when released, will allow IT pros to use Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager to set up the virtual desktop infrastructure. In addition, it will enable USB and printing support when used with Virtual PC 7. MED-V is a desktop virtualization solution available to Microsoft's Software Assurance customers that comes as part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) suite of tools.

On the application virtualization front, Microsoft has created a new TechNet recipe forum for App-V users. IT pros can share how they sequenced their virtual applications at the forum. Sequencing virtual apps is somewhat akin to packaging .MSI files, according to the MDOP blog.

Another announcement of note is the availability of Microsoft Exchange 2010 SP1 beta, which can be downloaded here.

Additionally, Microsoft plans to release the next version of Communications Server, code-named version "14," sometime "later this year," according to Microsoft's announcement. Only a few of the new features expected in this unified communications solution were described. They include "one-click meeting access from Outlook, SharePoint and mobile phones," plus document and application sharing improvements. A fuller list of expected features is described in this PointBridge blog.

SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 won't contain any Windows 7-specific improvements, according to a blog by Gavriella Schuster, general manager for Windows client commercial. Instead, the service pack contains a rollup of updates that are currently available through Microsoft's Windows Update service, plus some hotfixes that Microsoft created in response to feedback from partners and customers.

Microsoft disclosed a few more detail about its RemoteFX technology and how it supports a rich experience on thin clients. A video with Michael Kleef, senior product manager of Windows Server, shows how RemoteFX can enable running 3-D graphics-intensive applications such as AutoCAD, as well as high-definition video. Kleef said that the client device shown in the demo had "RemoteFX on an ASIC chip" and only "3 Watts of power." He also described using a USB port in a mobile device to access the virtual desktop infrastructure.

The RemoteFX demo, as well as another video showing dynamic memory in action, can both be accessed at this blog here.

Microsoft's announcements were all part of the opening Tech-Ed keynote talk by Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business. Muglia, speaking in New Orleans on Monday, reemphasized Microsoft's "all in" cloud focus that was highlighted back in March by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Cloud computing announcements at Tech-Ed included an updated software development kit for Windows Azure. In addition, SQL Azure now supports spatial data and Microsoft has bumped up the database capacity to 50 GB.

On top of that, Microsoft announced a public preview of Data Sync Service for SQL Azure. This service lets users synchronize a SQL Azure database with other SQL Azure databases hosted on Microsoft's servers. In that way, data can be moved closer to users, a Microsoft blog explains.

Pricing for Microsoft's Windows Azure Content Delivery Network, which delivers Windows Azure blob content from Microsoft's servers around the world, was also announced. Details on Microsoft's SQL Azure announcements and Azure CDN pricing are described in greater detail in this blog.

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