Despite the air of optimism surrounding Windows 7, Microsoft isn't yet forgetting its current flagship operating system - Windows Vista - and is today showing its commitment to the much-maligned operating system with the launch of a second Service Pack.
Service Pack 2, which became available as a beta late in 2008 and was released to manufacturing last month, is now available to download as a standalone installer for both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 but hasn't yet been rolled out via Windows Update.
Hardware ecosystem support and enhancements
- SP2 adds support for the 64-bit central processing unit (CPU) from VIA Technologies, which adds the ID and vendor strings for the new VIA 64-bit CPU.
- SP2 integrates the Windows Vista Feature Pack for Wireless, which contains support for Bluetooth v2.1 and Windows Connect Now (WCN) Wi-Fi Configuration. Bluetooth v2.1 is the most recent specification for Bluetooth wireless technology.
- SP2 improves performance for Wi-Fi connections after resuming from sleep mode.
- SP2 includes updates to the RSS feeds sidebar for improved performance and responsiveness.
- SP2 includes ability to record data to Blu-Ray Disc media.
Operating system experience updates
- SP2 includes Windows Search 4.0, which builds on Microsoft’s search technology with improved indexing and search relevance. It also helps find and preview documents, e-mail (including signed e-mail messages), music files, photos, and other items on the computer. The search engine in Windows Search 4.0 is a Microsoft Windows® service that is also used by programs such as Microsoft Office Outlook® 2007 and Microsoft Office OneNote® 2007. Autotuning Diagnostics in SP2 now interprets current network conditions when implementing Windows scaling. This feature includes full netsh support.
- SP2 improves Windows Media Center (WMC) in the area of content protection for TV.
- SP2 removes the limit of 10 half open outbound TCP connections. By default, SP2 has no limit on the number of half open outbound TCP connections.
- SP2 provides the Hyper-V virtualization environment as a fully integrated feature of Windows Server 2008, including one free instance with Windows Server 2008 Standard, four free instances with Windows Server 2008 Enterprise and an unlimited number of free instances with Windows Server 2008 Datacenter.
- SP2 increases the authentication options for WebDAV redirector, enabling Microsoft Office users greater flexibility when authenticating custom applications using the WebDAV redirector.
- SP2 provides an improved power management (both on the server and the desktop), which includes the ability to manage these settings via Group Policy.
- SP2 improves backwards compatibility for Terminal Server license keys. Windows Server 2008 changed the licensing key from 512 bytes to 2,048 bytes which caused clients using older Terminal Server versions to fail. SP2 allows legacy license keys on Citrix applications to work with Windows Server 2008 Terminal Server.
Setup and deployment improvements
The SP2 standalone installer:
- Provides a single installer for both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.
- Includes the ability to detect an incompatible driver and either block service pack installation or warn users of any potential loss of functionality.
- Provides better error handling and descriptive error messages where possible.
- Improves manageability through logging in the system event log.
- Provides a secure install experience.
- Includes the ability to service the installer post release.
SP2 also includes a Service Pack Clean-up tool (Compcln.exe) which helps recover the hard disk space by permanently deleting previous versions of files (RTM and SP1) that are being serviced by SP2. The Service Pack Clean up tool can also be run offline while creating slipstream images to reduce the size of the image.