Vista SP2 beta available to all today


Microsoft has made Vista Service Pack 2 generally available today via its Download Center, however Vista SP1 must be installed before SP2 can be. If you were hoping that Vista had gone on a diet and that SP2 will emerge as a slimmer version of its former bloated self, the file size will disappoint you. The update is 388MB for the 32-bit edition or 614MB for the 64-bit code, reports

While most of the coverage of SP2 has focused on new features, or tweaks for existing features, Infoworld's test drive of SP2 has found that the new OS is a little faster than previous versions. While Infoworld reviewer Randall C. Kennedy says that the performance boost isn't substantial, he also says it is a hopeful sign for Windows 7 -- which Microsoft promises will not be slower than Vista.

SP2 features support for Bluetooth 2.1, the ability to record to Blu-ray media, tweaks to improve Wi-Fi performance, enhancements for DirectX, high-definition video playback and support for UTC time stamps. It also includes Windows Search 4.0. Search 4.0 improves Vista's abysmal previous search capabilities by performing background indexing and offering more granular user controls. It is also better for the enterprise with new management features and tighter integration with Active Directory Group Policies. (However, you may still want to go with a third-party for search such as Agent Ransack according to Windows Server 2008 blogger Glenn Weadock).

Some of SP2's features, including Windows Search 4.0 and Bluetooth 2.1 support, have been available to Vista users for months through individual updates.

Microsoft has not announced an official ship date for the final version of SP2, although rumor says it will happen in April. Meanwhile, bets are also on that the first public beta of Windows 7 could arrive as soon as January -- possibly even in time for Steve Ballmer's keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 7, according to CRN.

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