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Microsoft ready to test Windows 7 update

At its partner conference Monday, company will announce it's ready with beta versions of service pack updates to both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Although much of Microsoft's focus at its partner conference will be on the cloud, many of its product announcements have to do with on-premise software such as Windows and Windows Server.

On Monday, the first full day of its annual Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft is scheduled to announce, among other things, the beta of Service Pack 1 for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The update for Windows 7 is quite minor and consists mostly of previous bug fixes and other tweaks. On the server side, though, the service pack will add some new features around virtualization.

Microsoft had said in June that it would release the beta versions of the service packs this month.

Also at the partner conference, Microsoft will also show off early versions of two servers aimed at small businesses. One, code-named Small Business Server 7, is an update to the existing Small Business Server product, which combines Windows Server, Exchange Server, and other products into a single server software bundle. The other product, code-named Aurora, is aimed at helping small businesses balance work between their own hardware and cloud-based services. Aurora will allow businesses with up to 25 PCs to run file and print server functions locally, while linking to Microsoft online services for things like e-mail and portal software.

Microsoft isn't saying when to expect final versions of either small business server product.

At the event, Microsoft will also detail plans for the next version of its customer relationship management software, which will run locally and be available in hosted form. A beta of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 will be released in September for both hosted and on-premise use. Among the new features are expanded use of the Ribbon interface within Outlook. Microsoft is also adding a new Dynamics Marketplace to highlight a range of third party services.

Microsoft also said it will expand availability of the online service version to eight more markets by the end of the year, bringing to 40 the number in which the hosted service is available. The new countries are: Australia, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Chile, Cyprus, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is also discussing an Azure appliance that will let large customers or partners run Microsoft's cloud-based operating system within their own data centers.

Other stories from Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference:
Microsoft sets price for Windows Intune
Microsoft boxing up its Azure cloud