Monday, December 8, 2008

Vista SP1 Rolling Over for Vista SP2

Vista SP1 did not do the trick for your RTM copy of the operating system? While such a scenario is highly unlikely, Microsoft is getting closer and closer to taking Windows Vista to the next level, again.

Until Window 7 drops, users will be able to get their hands on Windows Vista Service Pack 2, currently planned for release in the first half of 2009. The first public taste of Vista SP2 is, in fact, already available for download, via the bits released as a part of the Customer Preview Program for Vista SP2 Beta and the Windows Server 2008 SP2 Beta, which debuted for MSDN and TechNet subscribers on December 2.

“Windows Vista SP2 is a traditional service pack release with all cumulative released security updates available since the SP1 release in March 2008. In addition, Windows Vista SP2 includes support for new types of hardware and emerging standards that will grow in importance in coming months, along with fixes discovered via automated error reporting as part of our Customer Experience Improvement program,” stated Celine Allee, director, Windows Client, on December 2, 2008.

In 2008, with the simultaneous availability of Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 RTM/SP1, Microsoft synchronized the development processes, future releases, and the servicing tasks for its Windows client and server operating systems. In this regard, Service Pack 2 is not aimed exclusively at Vista, but also at Windows Server 2008. Going forward, Windows 7 and Windows 7 Server (Windows Server 2008 R2) will also be released concomitantly, and will receive their first Service Pack at the same time.

For the time being, Microsoft is offering for download Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 Beta and Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Beta - Five Language Standalone DVD ISO, Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 Beta and Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Beta - Five Language Standalone, Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 Beta and Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Beta - Five Language Standalone for x64-based systems, and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 Beta - Five Language Standalone for ia64-based systems.

The need for SP2
When it came down to Vista SP1, Microsoft's purpose was clear. Vista RTM needed a critical evolution involving performance boosts, but also increased compatibility and support, as well as some fine tuning combined with the softening of all the operating system's rough edges that had survived past the releasing to manufacturing stage. Following the introduction of SP1, Vista no longer needs an evolution like a breath of fresh air after coma. In fact, Microsoft itself indicated that there was no correlation between the quality of Vista SP1 and the release of SP2.

“Automated feedback (telemetry) provided by Microsoft’s Customer Experience Improvement program since launching Service Pack 1, indicates that Service Pack 1 is equal to or higher than nearly all dimensions of Windows XP Service Pack 2 baselines. Based on this data we believe we have delivered on our promise of improved performance, reliability, application and device compatibility, as well as security in Service Pack 1,” the software giant stated.

In this context, Microsoft underlined that Service Pack 2 was aimed first and foremost at kicking Windows Server 2008 up a notch. Because it features the same codebase as Windows Vista SP1 does, the RTM Build of Windows Server 2008 is synonymous with the SP1 releases. Service Pack 2 is actually the first service pack for Windows Server 2008, with Microsoft offering the bits simultaneously for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista.

“Service Pack 2 is being developed primarily with Windows Server 2008 in mind,” Microsoft revealed. “Service Pack 2, designed for install on Server 2008 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1, represents a single serviceability model we are adopting for these two products, making it easier to manage and deploy this service pack broadly in business networks. SP2 also rolls up all previous Windows Updates to create a more convenient updating experience for customers with new PCs.”

Vista SP2 under the hood
SP2 for Windows Vista SP1 is designed primarily to expand the platform's level of hardware support. Vista SP2 will be able to play well with Blu-ray media, also delivering support for ICCD/CCID smart cards and for the new VIA 64-bit CPU. When it comes down to support, Microsoft has also tweaked Vista to offer correct file synchronization across time zones related to data recorded exFAT file system (via UTC timestamps). Furthermore, just as the Redmond company is laboring to enhance the support for Bluetooth in Windows 7, Vista SP2 will come to the table with support for the Bluetooth 2.1 feature pack.

“Windows Vista SP2 includes Hyper-V technology, enabling full virtualization of server workloads,” Allee stated. “Hyper-V is not included in Windows Vista SP2, it is part of the Windows Server 2008 service pack. This means that when you install SP2 for Windows Server 2008, or if you install a slipstreamed version of Windows Server 2008 with SP2, the RTM version of the Hyper-V role will be included. Hyper-V was released after Windows Server 2008, which means that the role you currently install is a pre-release role, and needs to be updated to bring it up to RTM. This update will be applied (only if necessary) automatically when you install SP2.”


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