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Feel free to check out its latest service pack, everyone is a VIP now, says Microsoft

DailyTech reported a couple weeks back on Microsoft's release of its Windows Vista and Server 2008 Service Pack 2's Release Candidate.  The SP2 RC was only available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers.  Not wanting to leave the general public out of the testing process, Microsoft has at last announced the availability of the SP2 RC to the masses.

The service pack brings a number of changes and bug fixes to Windows Vista.  It provides support for VIA's new 64-bit CPU, Bluetooth v2.1, Windows Connect Now (WCN) Wi-Fi Configuration wireless functionality, faster Wi-Fi resume times after hibernation, and most significantly the ability to record Blu-ray.

It also features a number of software/connectivity improvements, including faster RSS feeds in the sidebar, Windows Search 4.0, the ability to configure the maximum number of TCP connections.

The service pack is also for Windows Server 2008, and offers the Hyper-V virtualization environment as a free fully integrated feature, with one free daughter OS with Windows Server 2008 Standard, four free licenses with Windows Server 2008 Enterprise, and an unlimited number of free licenses with Windows Server 2008 Datacenter.  It also improves the management options in Windows Server 2008 and fixes some licensing key problems.

To top it off, the service pack bundles into a single package numerous bug fixes that Microsoft has been working on over the past several months and slowly releasing over Windows Update.  Altogether, SP2 should help to make Windows Vista and Server 2008 more solid platforms, with many small improvements.

Testing is critical to the service packs success.  Microsoft has been burned by past SP releases, which at times caused extreme errors like machine resetting.  The company is looking to give this one a thorough public testing and resolve any issues before deeming it complete.

For those wanting to grab the new SP2 RC, you can download it here.  You will have to uninstall the beta of SP2, if you have it currently installed.

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im confused
By kattanna on 3/5/09, Rating: 0
RE: im confused
By 67STANG on 3/5/2009 10:42:12 AM , Rating: 2
Most businesses do not install a Windows OS unless it's at least had a SP1 released-- some not until SP2. This is a smart move by Microsoft to add some additional Vista adoption in the gap between Vista and a Windows 7 (as it will take a while before Windows 7 gets a service pack).

RE: im confused
By TomZ on 3/5/2009 11:07:32 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe Microsoft will launch Windows 7 with SP1 to overcome this irrational guideline, as they did with Windows Server 2008, which included SP1 when it RTM'd.

RE: im confused
By Motoman on 3/5/2009 11:21:49 AM , Rating: 4
...why do you think it's irrational to wait for the first SP? No matter how broad your beta testing is, you'll never fix all the major just makes sense for a business to wait for the first SP so they don't have to risk it.

RE: im confused
By omnicronx on 3/5/2009 11:40:27 AM , Rating: 5
Playing Devils advocate, I think its safe to say that Windows 7 is the most thoroughly tested Windows OS before release ever.

In the past I would have waited for a Service Pack (Vista), but even the beta version of 7 is pretty stable, and the similarities to Vista should mean that most programs will work without a hitch. Now if your workplace has not started testing Vista yet, then that's another story ;)

RE: im confused
By bankerdude on 3/5/2009 11:46:14 AM , Rating: 2
LOL, some parts of the company I work for still run on DOS. I'm waiting for the big upgrade to Windows 3.11 for Workgroups

RE: im confused
By omnicronx on 3/5/2009 11:52:33 AM , Rating: 2
You really are a banker dude ;) I bet you are still running Mainframe COBOL too =D

RE: im confused
By killerroach on 3/5/2009 12:09:07 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, there's nothing wrong with COBOL... 50-year-old programmers need their jobs, too... :)

RE: im confused
By 67STANG on 3/5/2009 1:23:22 PM , Rating: 2
As a .Net developer, it's hard for me to fathom having to do all of your programming in COBOL, Basic, FORTRAN, etc.

What a nightmare.

RE: im confused
By omnicronx on 3/5/2009 2:45:48 PM , Rating: 2
You don't, its just the lowest level and chances are the Cobol code itself has not been changed in years. Banks in particular lay other frameworks on top of cobol. In school we integrated Cobol into our .net apps.

Why change something that is tried tested and true?

RE: im confused
By Spivonious on 3/6/2009 10:40:52 AM , Rating: 2
Why change something that is tried tested and true?

Because eventually no one will know how to maintain it :)

It's already happening at my company where most of our programs are in VB6. Entry-level guys out of college have never even seen VB6 before. We're slowly moving things to .NET, but it's a slow journey.

RE: im confused
By Motoman on 3/5/2009 2:02:55 PM , Rating: 2
Hey now...I'm in my mid-thirties at the moment, and my first job out of college, after having recived a BS in computer science, was writing COBOL. Probably wrote a million lines of it in the couple years I was there. Even have a good joke about 88-level variables...

RE: im confused
By omnicronx on 3/5/2009 2:47:11 PM , Rating: 2
Is cobol still that widely used? Or are you just updating code to add new functionality.

RE: im confused
By Motoman on 3/5/2009 10:36:07 PM , Rating: 2
...that was about 15 years ago. But yes, as a matter of fact, it's still pretty widely used. Old school mainframes are still chugging along, and with modern development you can easily have a COBOL backend running on a CICS machine with a web or client/server frontend, so it all works like the user wants it to.

RE: im confused
By Hieyeck on 3/6/2009 8:50:31 AM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind, 15 years ago, Americans could actually build stuff. Mainframes/servers/cars(yes, I went there) were built to last. Then some douche in marketing thought it would be a better idea to just tell people to buy a new one every couple of years.

RE: im confused
By Motoman on 3/6/2009 11:26:30 AM , Rating: 2
...because clearly, a 1994 <insert favorite US car> was a much higher-quality product than a 2009 <insert favorite US car>.

...same for mainframes and servers. WTF?

RE: im confused
By Shadowself on 3/5/09, Rating: -1
RE: im confused
By dashrendar on 3/5/2009 11:55:17 AM , Rating: 5
And it always makes sense to wait a week or so before installing a Service Pack. Am I right or am I right?! *elbows everyone in the forum*

RE: im confused
By TomZ on 3/5/09, Rating: 0
RE: im confused
By vapore0n on 3/5/2009 12:34:24 PM , Rating: 2
You must work in a really small company.

The average user does not use the control panel, all USB drives work on XP, cosmetic changes are small compared to the huge impact of upgrading to an unstable OS (Vista release), big OS change requires big hardware change too (Vista again).

Big companies have an IT that takes care of testing that everything works before upgrading, even for patches and service packs.
It costs a lot of money to test and upgrade. I dont see a company dumping a lot of money for this unless it really wants to go for it. In my case, we got XP when support for 2000 ran out, which forced an upgrade.

RE: im confused
By Lugaidster on 3/5/2009 12:56:10 PM , Rating: 1
To me the argument to wait until SP1 reminds me of the days when I used Debian Stable. People tend to create links between the words stable and old. In reality, a software can be stable but not old and be old but not stable.

I'd rather have Vista as it comes with SP1 than XP as it comes with SP2 or SP3. How many times have I inserted a pendrive into an XP machine and it infected itself with some new virus. Yet Vista out of the box warns me of this things.
It's just a more pleasant experience.

My 2 cents.

RE: im confused
By TomZ on 3/5/2009 1:43:28 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, exactly. Both Vista and Windows 7 have a lot of new features that make things quicker and easier. It's foolish to delay upgrading to something better.

RE: im confused
By omnicronx on 3/5/2009 11:16:26 AM , Rating: 2
And Windows 95SP 2.5 = Windows 98 and Windows 98SE + Windows NT = Windows 2000 and Windows 2000 sp3 = Window XP and windows XP sp2 = Vista and Vista XP2 = Windows 7.

So really Windows 95 = Windows 7

RE: im confused
By docmilo on 3/5/2009 12:41:53 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm... Windows 3(.1,) Win95 = Win4, Win98 = Win5, WinXP = Win6, WinVista should = Win 7 so this is really just Vista like WinMe was really Win98.

RE: im confused
By Drexial on 3/5/2009 12:54:33 PM , Rating: 2
Vista development was started after windows seven and it was released before. The time line doesn't really work when trying to do the number scheme. Vista is actually based on 7, rather than vise versa like it would be assumed. In development time line terms Vista would actually be 8....

RE: im confused
By Spivonious on 3/5/2009 1:05:42 PM , Rating: 2
Please stop talking before someone believes you.

RE: im confused
By Drexial on 3/5/2009 3:54:46 PM , Rating: 2
Its true....

Longhorn became Vista
Blackcomb became Windows 7

Blackcomb was started then longhorn was started to be a minor release to fill the gap between XP and Blackcomb set for release in 2003. Blackcomb would then be released
later with more full features. But then more of the same work was going into Longhorn that was intended for Blackcomb, then it all went to hell when XP was pounded on with security problems and the project got sidelined. Eventually they went back to work and Longhorn became vista and Blackcomb became Vienna and now Windows 7.

Vista was to get something on the market while they refined what will later be released as Windows 7.

basically they planned for the future, realized they needed something for the present and then went back to focusing on the future. Which will soon be the present.

RE: im confused
By TomZ on 3/5/2009 1:24:59 PM , Rating: 2
It's all semantics, but the fact of the matter is that Windows 7 is based on the common Vista/Server 2008 codebase. After all, "7" is whatever Microsoft decides to call it.

And by the way, I really hope Microsoft bumps the version number for Windows 7 to 7.0.xxxx. It would be kind of confusing if they don't, and it would kind of defeat the purpose of calling it "Windows 7" if the actual version number is 6.x.

RE: im confused
By Spivonious on 3/5/2009 1:04:47 PM , Rating: 2
The versioning goes Windows 95(4), Windows 98 (4.1), Windows 2000 (5), Windows XP (5.1), Vista(6), Windows 7 (6.1).

RE: im confused
By InsaneScientist on 3/9/2009 1:42:26 AM , Rating: 2
All of your version numbers are right, but it doesn't actually go from 98 to 2000, though it appears that it ought to at first glance.

Windows 95/98 were based on the original versions of Windows with the sequence looking like this:
Windows 1.0, 2.x, 3.x, 4.0 (95), 4.1 (98), and 4.9 (ME)
After that the codebase was abandoned.

XP, Vista, and 7 are built on the NT codebase, the sequence for which is:
3.1, 3.5, 4.0, 5.0 (2000), 5.1 (XP), 5.2 (2003/XP x64/WHS), 6.0 (Vista, 2008), 6.1 (Windows 7)

RE: im confused
By Targon on 3/9/2009 1:51:36 PM , Rating: 2
There is more to Windows 7 than the minor updates we will see with Vista SP2. Yes, in general Windows 7 is really Vista with some visual changes and other features, but there will be enough cosmetic changes in 7 to call it a different OS, though not by much.

The real key is that while Vista itself is fairly solid, the first five to six months after release, Vista had some pretty serious driver stability problems. I honestly do not fault Microsoft for NVIDIA driver problems(NVIDIA driver crashes caused over 30 percent of the Vista crashes seen in 2007).

If you are reading DailyTech, you should know how to isolate driver faults with OS problems. Vista may not be the best OS, but it isn't as bad as many have made it out to be.

Final Version?
By masteryoda34 on 3/5/2009 11:29:59 AM , Rating: 2
Is this release candidate the final version of the service pack? I don't want to have to uninstall this when the final one comes out.

RE: Final Version?
By omnicronx on 3/5/2009 11:33:41 AM , Rating: 3
It will be close, but no it is not the final release. You will probably have to uninstall it once the final version comes out. Release candidates are always the last phase before a final release, and it usually means no more functionality just bugs to be fixed.

RE: Final Version?
By Motoman on 3/5/2009 11:53:41 AM , Rating: 3
...and there may be more than one "release candidate" if they decide that this particular candidate isn't qualified. Which differs entirely from our political process, in which totally unqualified candidates get elected anyway.

RE: Final Version?
By TomZ on 3/5/2009 12:00:08 PM , Rating: 5
Someone always finds an angle to bring politics into the tech discussion. :o)

Maybe the site should be called DailyTechPolitics instead!

RE: Final Version?
By Sunday Ironfoot on 3/5/2009 6:00:39 PM , Rating: 3
You're right, George Bush was completely unqualified!

RE: Final Version?
By therealnickdanger on 3/6/2009 8:09:22 AM , Rating: 3
More qualified with greater experience than President Obama... o_O

RE: Final Version?
By Hieyeck on 3/6/2009 8:39:01 AM , Rating: 3
I wasn't aware C-grade students were considered qualified... That's so... average.

RE: Final Version?
By on 3/6/2009 9:11:10 AM , Rating: 1
But that's the American way!

RE: Final Version?
By Kaleid on 3/6/2009 8:52:29 PM , Rating: 1
Right. Reality shows that Bush messed up almost anything he touches.

RE: Final Version?
By The0ne on 3/5/2009 1:34:53 PM , Rating: 4
It's RC and yes you will have to uninstall it prior to installing the released version.

RE: Final Version?
By Aloonatic on 3/9/2009 10:29:17 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, you probably will have to uninstall it.

Don't be an idiot like I was (am) and forget to do it, as I did with WinXP SP3 RC1. All sorts of things started going wrong a few months down the line (well, the other week). It was only when I replaced it with the official release and the many many many patches that I had missed out on did things start to return to usual.

Lucky, I don't really use that machine to do much apart from stream stuff to my PS3, so it could well have been part of a bot-net or anything else for all I cared, but if it was, I am sorry for any junk mail I may have sent out inadvertently.

It was due a fresh install (which I decided on in the end) as it hadn't had one for a fair few years anyway, and nothing was lost but you never know, next time, it could be worse.

Nice, but..
By bankerdude on 3/5/2009 9:56:27 AM , Rating: 2
What I really want to know is did they finally include support for unencrypted clear QAM tuning in VMC for the masses, rather than having to try to find TV Pack 2008 through a torrent somewhere since I'm not an OEM distributor?

RE: Nice, but..
By ViRGE on 3/5/2009 10:08:38 AM , Rating: 3
Nope. ClearQAM is only included in the TV pack.

RE: Nice, but..
By omnicronx on 3/5/2009 10:13:30 AM , Rating: 4
That being said, it looks like Windows 7 has the TV pack integrated as QAM works out of the box.

RE: Nice, but..
By bhieb on 3/5/2009 1:25:37 PM , Rating: 3
significantly the ability to record Blu-ray

More basic question is why fix recording to blu-ray but not the ability to play blu-ray natively in media center. I have 2 HTPC's that are on MCE2005, that I would gladly upgrade if they played blu-ray without an additional 3rd party vendor software that is poorly hacked into the MCE interface.

RE: Nice, but..
By omnicronx on 3/5/2009 2:28:45 PM , Rating: 2
One word, extenders. There is just not enough bandwidth for true BD transport without compressing it to the point where it is essentially pointless. MS does not want to release support for BD while just using a Media Center PC, I can imagine the support calls and the backlash already.

I would love to have integrated BD support but I can see why there may be some hesitation on Microsoft's part.

RE: Nice, but..
By TomZ on 3/5/2009 2:50:40 PM , Rating: 3
I don't buy that argument. There are lots of software-only BD players on the market already. And I also don't see what bandwidth limitation you're talking about. Probably any Core 2 plus a cheapie mid-grade GPU could handle it with no problem.

RE: Nice, but..
By RubberJohnny on 3/5/2009 10:30:12 PM , Rating: 2
I think he's talking about when using a media extender.... i.e. if you use a x360 as an extender to stream a bluray played from an attached pc the feed is transcoded then send across the network. The transcode looks pretty bad therefore you're not getting the benefit of blurays increased picture quality.

RE: Nice, but..
By Noliving on 3/5/2009 9:38:48 PM , Rating: 2
Because they then have to pay a fee for that decoder.

That is why windows media player on xp, especially wmp v11 can't play dvd's natively yet the one on vista can. When you bought vista you bought a decoder for dvd movies.

It's interesting they didn't include a decoder for bluray movies in windows media player v12 for windows 7.

RE: Nice, but..
By jtesoro on 3/6/2009 4:10:29 AM , Rating: 2
I understand some (most?) downloadable media players already include decoders (e.g. VLC). Did their developers pay for the decoders or are they essentially "pirated"?

RE: Nice, but..
By Penti on 3/6/2009 6:12:12 PM , Rating: 2
It's "homebrew" software i.e. a mix of reverse engineering and simply following the standards (without getting licenses). You can't sell devices with said software to the US, the customs would seize it. It's not pirated it's patent infringing.

New features in Service Packs?
By BigToque on 3/5/2009 12:55:09 PM , Rating: 2
I'm obviously a couple of years late with this comment, but I seem to recall that around the time of Windows 2000, Microsoft had said that they would no longer offer new features with service packs, stating that the service packs would be nothing but bug fixes.

When did they change their stance? Or was this never the case?

By Spivonious on 3/5/2009 1:12:03 PM , Rating: 2
All of the things listed above (AFAIK) are available as hot fixes. I've had Windows Search 4 installed for at least 3-4 months.

bittorrent help?
By plonk420 on 3/5/2009 3:28:00 PM , Rating: 3
"...the ability to configure the maximum number of TCP connections."

is this what's slowing down internet browsing with (at least) uTorrent and non-Ultimate Vista? it seems to be related to "half-open connections"...

SP2 + sound and Gigabit network
By leexgx on 3/6/2009 11:55:01 PM , Rating: 2
i just hope on SP2 thay have fixed this problem
the fix for SP1 users is below (goto comment 17030 if it does not goto it)

this problem only affects users with High speed network cards (gigabit / 1000based) + sound open (Teamspeak or anything that opens the sound card)

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