Microsoft said Monday it expects to have a public beta by July for the first service pack update to Windows 7.
The announcement came at the start of Microsoft's TechEd conference, being held this week in New Orleans.
Although the update is relatively minor, the release of the first service pack of an operating system has historically been a symbolic indication to businesses that the software is ready for mass consumption. In recent years, though, Microsoft has issued many of the updates that are part of a service pack ahead of that release and the company has encouraged businesses not to wait for the first service pack to deploy a particular piece of software. That's especially true with the Windows 7 update, which consists almost entirely of already released bug fixes.
"While the new features for Windows Server 2008 R2 benefit Windows 7 by providing a richer [virtual desktop] experience, SP1 will not contain any new features that are specific to Windows 7 itself," Microsoft's Gavriella Schuster said in a blog post. "For Windows 7, 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."
Microsoft also plans to release a service pack for its latest server operating system, Windows Server 2008 R2, in July. Microsoft did not give a date of when to expect the final version of the service packs.
On the Bing front, Microsoft said that developers will be able to build new applications built on top of Bing Maps and that those applications will be able hostable on Bing.com.
Microsoft also announced updates to its cloud-based Windows Azure operating system, adding support for the latest versions of Visual Studio and the .Net Framework, and to the SQL Azure cloud database, adding spatial data support and access to up to 50GB of capacity.
The software maker also showed more features of the next version of its communications server. Communications Server "14," as the product is code-named, will allow for sharing of office documents and applications, as well as single-click meeting access from Outlook, SharePoint, and phones. Finally. Microsoft said it is ready with a test version of the first service pack for Exchange 2010.