Microsoft to release Vista SP2 beta this week

Microsoft said last Friday that it would deliver the beta of Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) this coming week to a limited number of testers.

The company targeted SP2’s ship date for the first half of 2009, well before the expected release of Windows 7 , Vista’s successor.

In postings to company blogs, several Microsoft executives announced that the Vista SP2 beta would be given out to a small number of testers in the Technology Adoption Program, a long-standing group of company partners and customers, on Oct. 29.

After Mike Nash, vice president of Windows product management, broke the news mid-day Friday, Celine Allee, a director in the Windows client IT team, followed with more information, including a tentative ship date. “We anticipate broad availability for Windows Vista SP2 in the first half of 2009,” Allee said.

A week ago, the Windows enthusiast site Neowin.net reported that testers had received invitations to join the beta program, while others speculated that Microsoft would deliver Vista SP2 before it shipped Windows 7.

Nash and Allee also said that Microsoft would produce a single service pack that would update both the client version, Vista, and the company’s corresponding server software, Windows Server 2008. “Because we’ve adopted a single serviceability model, these improvements are integrated into a single service pack covering both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008,” said Nash.

They also confirmed the report by Neowin.net that SP2 will include Windows Search 4, Bluetooth 2.1 wireless support and support for Via Technologies Inc.’s 64-bit processor. Currently, Via is best known for its C7 chip, which powers some ultralight “netbook” laptops, including Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Mini-Note.

Windows Search 4.0 is the newest version of Microsoft’s desktop search engine and was issued to current Vista users via Windows Update last July; Microsoft released Bluetooth 2.1 support for Vista last April as part of the Vista Feature Pack.

Other improvements slated for Vista SP2, said Allee, include faster resume from sleep when a wireless connection has been broken; enabling of the exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps; and support for Blu-ray.

Microsoft also said that Vista SP2 will require SP1 as a prerequisite. There will be no such requirement for Windows Server 2008 updates, since the server operating system has not had a separate SP1. Instead, Microsoft unveiled both Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 on the same day last February.

In fact, Windows Server 2008 carried the “SP1” label in its version number from the start, one of the first clues that Microsoft was serious about keeping the two operating systems in sync.

Windows Server 2008 SP2 will include the final version of its Hyper-V virtualization technology, which it issued as a free download in June; and it will include modifications to its power profile that will yield a 10% improvement over the original edition of the OS.

A beta of Windows Server 2008 SP2 will also be seeded to testers on Wednesday.

Allee urged users not to wait for the next service pack, “You can, and should, continue your plans for adopting Windows Vista SP1, and roll SP2 into your deployment image when it becomes available,” she said.



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