Microsoft Outlines Upcoming SP1 Beta For Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2


The beta will include Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX -- enhancements to virtualization capabilities of the server platform announced earlier this year -- as well as advances in support for USB devices connected remotely via Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. The first service packs for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 also roll in fixes delivered through the Windows Update service since the products were RTM.

In a confidential briefing with the press on Sunday, Microsoft's senior product manager of Windows Servers, Justin Graham, outlined Microsoft's intentions with RemoteFX, which at present include support only for DirectX 10 on Windows 7 -- XP and Vista will not be supported.

RemoteFX is contains intellectual property acquired by Microsoft in January 2008 along with Calista Technologies. In essence, RemoteFX makes server-side GPUs appear to VDI clients as a local resource, and provides "a full, rich experience like a desktop to thin clients," said Graham.

When necessary depending on the client, host-side rendering will be performed using a technique Graham described as GPU timeslicing. "It knows what hardware is available in the client, so if you have a Lenovo or other laptop with discrete graphics chip, it lets rendering happen at the client," Graham said.

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Despite taking place in software, all this coding/decoding "doesn't slow down the app, be it AutoCAD, Silverlight or some other technology that plays video through a browser," he said, in a clear inference to Adobe.

A live demo showed some rather unimpressive AutoCAD renderings along with full motion video which appeared smooth but included no sound. "We're working on hardware decoders," he said, and that over the next several months the company will "Microsoftize" the software while continuing to work with related technology companies, as well as with ATI and Nvidia, and that it has successfully tested those companies' respective CrossFireX and SLI multi-GPU protocols.

Graham went on to discuss improvements in USB redirection, which now enables most USB devices connected to thin clients to work. "Web cams work great, headsets work great, and Windows Mobile devices sync just fine," he said. Microsoft has not yet tested devices running operating systems other than Windows, he said. "We now even allow multiple-function printers and scanners."

Previous support included just a few device types. As for transport, USB redirection and RemoteFX travel along a new channel encapsulated within RDP, Graham said, meaning there's "no need to push any new ports through the firewall, it works just as it did before."

No specific release dates were given any of the service packs.