Windows Vista and Server 2008 SP2 Released to Manufacturing

Numerous performance and feature improvements are included in the new update to be released publicly in Q2.

Microsoft announced on Tuesday the release to manufacturing of Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. This is a unified service pack with a single installer for both platforms, simplifying deployment. General availability of this service pack is expected in Q2 of 2009.

The notable changes in this release, described in more detail in this Technet document, include:

  • Windows Search 4.0, which improves speed and relevance in search results
  • Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack with support for the most recent Bluetooth specification
  • Write ability on Blu-Ray media natively in Vista
  • WCN (Windows Connect Now) for simpler Wi-Fi configuration
  • Vista support for the exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps for correct file synchronization across time zones.

The service packs also contain a full collection of all security updates and hotfixes to Vista and Windows Server 2008. An Excel spreadsheet containing the full list of these may be downloaded from this Web page.

Microsoft also claims improvements in the Hyper-V virtualization environment in SP2, making it a fully integrated feature of Windows Server 2008, including one free instance with Windows Server 2008 Standard, four free instances with Windows Server 2008 Enterprise and an unlimited number of free instances with Windows Server 2008 Datacenter.

Power management improves in SP2 both on Vista and Server 2008, including Group Policies to manage the improved settings.

SP2 also addresses backward compatibility problems with respect to 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.

At the same time, as they had announced in January, Microsoft is removing the Windows Vista SP1 Service Pack Blocker tool, so that Vista SP0 users will be offered SP1 on Windows Update. The blocker tool for SP3 on Windows XP will expire on May 19 of this year.