SP2 for Vista, Windows Server 2008 coming next week

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to Betanews this afternoon that the first release candidates (without numerals) for Service Pack 2 for both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 will be released to the general public for testing next week. This after private testers with the MSDN and TechNet services receive their copies first.

For the first time, the SP2 standalone package will be delivered to users not according to operating system build, but to byte length. So the 32-bit standalone service pack (302 MB with the basic five languages, 390 MB for multi-language) will update both 32-bit Vista and 32-bit Windows Server 2008. Then there will be two 64-bit standalones, including one which covers x64 architectures (508 MB / 622 MB) and one for Itanium 64-bit (384 MB / 396 MB). The RC will represent a kind of dress rehearsal for this new method of distribution.

While the big theme for Vista SP2 has been reliability improvements, perhaps the most prominent new operating system feature undergoing its final round of tests will be the ability to burn to Blu-ray media using BD-R. This is being described as "the ability to record data to Blu-ray Disc Media," which is not exactly the same as saying "burn high-def videos." Currently, the Ultimate version of Vista SP1 enables users to burn recorded videos from digital video sources to DVD. Though it's technically feasible to burn high-def videos, when they're burned to regular DVD, they won't be all that long.

Microsoft isn't saying much today about changes to Media Center for SP2, other than to say that it adds improvements to its content protection features...which isn't exactly everyone's favorite feature.

For Windows Server testers, the Server team's Justin Graham reasserted today, Hyper-V virtualization will be built into the operating system as a permanently available role; in the initial release of WS2K8, it was part of an optional buildout -- a separate SKU. Also look for an improved power management scheme, whose usefulness may only be multiplied in datacenter environments.

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