Release Candidate of Vista SP2 Now Available

TechNet and MSDN subscribers can access release; available to general public next week

Microsoft on Wednesday announced that its TechNet and MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) subscribers now have access to the Release Candidate version of Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

In addition, Microsoft plans to make the SP2 RC software available to the general public as early as next week.

The release will be a fairly large download, judging from the earlier beta version, which weighed in at about 302 megabytes for the x86 version and 508 megabytes for x64 version. System administrators who need a standalone install typically might deal with those file sizes.

The general public will be able to get the service pack in a smaller chunk (43 megabytes) through Windows Update.

SP2 RC will feature Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor integrated with Windows Server 2008. People using the service pack won't have to download it separately to get it.

Users of Hyper-V with Windows Server 2008 get a few free perks, according to Microsoft's "Notable Changes" document for the beta version of the service pack. The virtualization perks include "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."

Microsoft is also touting improved power management for both server and desktop with the SP2 RC release. Power usage can be managed via group policy settings, according to Microsoft's Notable Changes document. Microsoft has also beefed up some hardware device support for Bluetooth 2.1 and Blu-Ray Disc media with this release.

Microsoft no longer forks the code between its client and server operating systems, so users of SP2 RC just have to select a download based on whether their systems are x86 or x64 based. In addition, the SP2 RC installer will automatically detect if a system is ready for the service pack. Users have to have already installed Vista SP1 to use the new service pack. Windows Server 2008 already includes the SP1 patch, Microsoft says.

SP2 RC also includes a service pack clean-up tool called Compcln.exe that can be used to recover hard disk space. The tool deletes older Windows files no longer needed with the SP2 RC upgrade.

Microsoft expects the final release of SP2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 will be released in the second quarter of this year, according to its Windows Vista blog.

Subscribers can currently access the SP2 RC bits at the TechNet download page and MSDN download page.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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