Microsoft announced that Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 has hit an important milestone in development: Release Candidate (RC).
Starting today, the RC of SP2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 will be available to TechNet and MSDN subscribers to test prior to final release.
SP2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 include updates that have been delivered since the release of SP1, as well as support for new types of hardware and emerging standards.
The SP2 will offer improved compatibility of the Windows OS with non-Microsoft applications. For example, in SP2, Spysweeper and ZoneAlarm, now work with POP3 e-mail accounts. Microsoft has already released several application compatibility updates which allow more applications to work seamlessly for the end user. These appear in SP2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, but they are also available through Windows Update. SP2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 contains additional application compatibility fixes for individual applications.
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 the 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 email 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 adds a registry key that enables modification of the maximum number of open TCP connections to increase application compatibility.
- SP2 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.
- 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; and
includes the ability to service the installer post-release.
SP2 also includes a Service Pack Clean-up tool (Compcln.exe) which helps recover hard disk space by permanently deleting previous versions of files (RTM and SP1) that are being serviced by SP2.
Microsoft plans to release SP2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 in the second quarter of 2009.