Microsoft Announces SP2 RC for Vista, Server 2008

With all the talk of Windows 7, we shouldn’t forget that Microsoft is still supporting currently existing operating systems of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Microsoft announced on its Windows blog that Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 has hit the important Release Candidate (RC) milestone in its development.

“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,” wrote Brandon LeBlanc, Windows Communications Manager. “In the very near future, we will be making the RC broadly available for anyone to download and test.”

“We are planning to release SP2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 in the second quarter of 2009,” LeBlanc added.

While there is a laundry list of items new for SP2, notable changes for end users include the following:

  • 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 and Windows Connect Now (WCN) Wi-Fi Configuration.

  • Improved performance for Wi-Fi connections after resuming from sleep mode.
  • Updates to the RSS feeds sidebar for improved performance and responsiveness.
  • Ability to record data to Blu-Ray Disc media.
  • Improved Windows Media Center (WMC) in the area of content protection for TV.
  • Added registry key that enables modification of the maximum number of open TCP connections to increase application compatibility.

For the enterprise, system administrators can expect the following improvements:

  • 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.

Microsoft said that it would update its blog when the SP2 RC is available for public consumption, but ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley said that she was told by company officials that it would happen sometime next week.

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