Windows Enterprise Desktop

Dec 3 2008   5:47PM GMT

Windows Vista SP2 Beta Publicly Available 12/4/08

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

I guess those guys at TechARP really must have some good sources: less than one week after they shared leaked information about release dates and content for Windows Vista SP2, Microsoft has announced its Customer Preview Program (CPP) for a single SP2 that will cover both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. This leads me to several interesting observations:

  • There must be much more to the common code base that purportedly exists between Vista and Server 2008 than many had previously thought–including me–because a single set of executables (32-bit and 64-bit binaries, in the usual variations) will address both OSes.
  • The Notable Changes document mentions a change to the Windows Update Agent/Windows Update Service stack as a pre-req to installing this service pack.
  • The Windows Update versions will be between 302 and 390 MB in size for standalone packages, and from 41 to 47 MB for Windows Update downloads (32-bit packages). For x64 64-bit packages, these numbers vary between 508 and 622 MB for standalone, and 60 and 90 MB for Windows Update versions.
  • The new features list matches what I reported from TechARP exactly, except for the omission of updates to the RSS feeds sidebar gadget to improve performance and responsiveness.
  • Numerous enterprise (full addition of Hyper-V into 2008, improved power management policies, and improved backward compatibility for Terminal Server license keys) and setup and deployment (single installer for both Vista and 2008, driver incompatibility checks during install, better error handling and reporting, improved installation logging and security, and another clean-up tool to rid the drive of files that SP2 will supersede) features will debut in this service pack.
  • There’s also mention of running the clean-up tool offline while creating slipstream install images to reduce overall image size. I’m curious to see how this will play out in day-to-day use.

As I write this blog, the SP2 download is available only to TechNet and MSDN subscribers (drat! I gave up my TechNet subscription as of 1/1/2008, and this is the first time I’ve missed it since then). On Thursday, 12/4/08, it became available on its own Beta CPP page [added 12/5/08].

Of course this information begs a very important question for enterprise Vista admins to ponder: why would they care about this beta? Instead of thinking of it as another distraction from important tasks and activities, think of it as an early opportunity to look for potential install, deployment, and compatibility issues. Although the full-blown release won’t go live until April09 at the earliest, it’s never too soon to start weeding out the potential gotchas from the work that a full-blown rollout will inevitably bring. That’s why you’ll probably want to download and work with this beta, albeit in the context of a safe and isolated test lab setup.

–Ed–

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