Right on schedule, Microsoft has made available the Service Pack 2 beta for its Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 operating systems.
Service Pack 2 beta, previously available to only MSDN and TechNet subscribers, is now openly available to all via Microsoft's Download Centre. It's available as a single installer for both Vista and Server 2008 operating systems, and weighs in at 388MB for the 32-bit version and 614MB for the 64-bit alternative.
The current release supports English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish languages, and lists Service Pack 1 as a prerequisite.
Microsoft lists the notable changes in Service Pack 2 as follows:
Hardware ecosystem support and enhancements
- 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.
- Integrates the Windows Vista Feature Pack for Wireless, which contains support for Bluetooth v2.1. Bluetooth v2.1 is the most recent specification for Bluetooth wireless technology and Windows Connect Now (WCN) Wi-Fi Configuration.
- Improves performance for Wi-Fi connection after resuming from sleep mode.
- Adds new capabilities to Direct X Graphic display reliability. The graphics experience has been greatly improved for users, such as gamers, running applications that require a lot of graphics processing.
- Includes updates to the RSS feeds sidebar with improved performance and responsiveness.
- Improves audio and video performance for streaming high definition content.
- Includes ability to record data to Blu-Ray media.
Operating system experience updates
- Windows Search 4.0 builds on Microsoft’s search technology with improved indexing and search relevance. It also helps find and preview documents, 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.
- Improves Windows Media Center (WMC) in Content protection for TV.
- Provides the Hyper-V virtualization environment as a fully integrated feature of Windows Server 2008, including one free daughter OS with Windows Server 2008 Standard, four free licenses with Windows Server 2008 Enterprise and an unlimited number of free licenses with Windows Server 2008 Datacenter.
- Provides an improved power management policy that is up to 10% more efficient than the original in some configurations (both on the server and the desktop), and includes the ability to manage these settings via Group Policy.
- 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 versions to fail. SP2 allows legacy license keys on Citrix applications to work with Windows Server 2008 Terminal server.
Setup and deployment improvements
- Provides a single installer for both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.
- Includes the ability to detect an incompatible driver and 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
Will you be putting the beta of Service Pack 2 to the test, or will you be awaiting the final release? Share your thoughts, and experiences, in the HEXUS.community forums.