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  (Source: Wikipedia)

The new Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 will enable the writing of Blu-ray discs, and includes 671 hotfixes.  (Source: Mitsubishi/Sony)
Some new updates to Microsoft's OS's should soon be headed down the pipe

Windows 7, looking to be one of hottest products of 2009 when it debuts later this year, brings many improvements to the table over Vista.  The new OS, while it shares most of its underlying code with Vista, features a richer and much faster user interface and promises better hardware support out of the gate thanks to dedicated efforts by Microsoft's team and hardware partners.  The OS will also bring key technologies like multi-touch to the table, and is shaping up to be all that Vista could have been in terms of PR and polish.

However, before the hot new OS can ship to customers, Microsoft needs to prove its systems and ready itself for the massive deployment that a Windows release entails.  The critical first step of this process was to release a beta to the general public.  Now, Microsoft is readying the first real test of its new update system for Windows 7.

Starting Tuesday, February 24, Microsoft has announced that they will be releasing a series of five test updates to beta users.  The updates are available through Windows Update, but will not download automatically, even if Automatic Update is enabled.  Instead, Microsoft needs users to volunteer their aid, by volunteering to manually install the updates.

The updates are simply stock system files, which replace the identical system files.  Thus the update is simply a dummy test and includes no bug fixes or improvements.

However, in the realm of actual Windows bug fixes and improvements, Microsoft today released the Release Candidate (RC) build of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 (SP2).  The RC features 671 hotfixes.  It is available, as a standalone installer package or via Windows Update or as a slipstreamed download.

Microsoft is offering the RC version of SP2 to its testers to verify that all the fixes are indeed working and that they do not introduce new problems.  It is urging its testers not to suggest new features, explaining that's outside the scope of the current testing. 

On the hardware side in Windows Vista, the RC should provides support for VIA's new 64-bit CPU, Bluetooth v2.1 and 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.

On the software/connections side, the SP2 provides 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.

In short, both for enterprise clients and for consumers, SP2 should bring a number of noteworthy improvements that will improve the Windows experience in little ways.  Microsoft has yet to announce the final release date for the production version of SP2.

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DRM to the max in Windows7... no thanks!
By GoodBytes on 2/20/2009 12:55:36 PM , Rating: -1
As windows 7 is great and all... I think I'll stick with my Vista 64-bit.

Apparently Windows 7 has DRM, no not to support a HD format, but actual DRM. Meaning that sound recorded from your system is deteriorated, application can by-pass the firewall (security hole?), and more...

RE: DRM to the max in Windows7... no thanks!
By zerocool84 on 2/20/2009 12:58:19 PM , Rating: 2
IS this confirmed??? I'm on Vista64 as well but I'm not ganna upgrade to W7 until SP1 since Vista does everything W7 does.

RE: DRM to the max in Windows7... no thanks!
By Arribajuan on 2/21/2009 2:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
haven't we heard this story?

"I will not upgrade because my current OS is so great, etc. etc. etc."

By Iger on 2/24/2009 3:50:22 AM , Rating: 2
Never with Vista yet :)

RE: DRM to the max in Windows7... no thanks!
By psypher on 2/20/2009 1:00:33 PM , Rating: 5
slashdot is so anti microsoft that it is impossible to believe anything they say. Read this:

Might open your eyes just a touch. The DRM in Windws 7 is in no way worse than in Vista.

By psypher on 2/20/2009 1:02:45 PM , Rating: 4
Oh, and i love the closing line to the Ars article... makes me feel all warm inside.

"When it comes to bashing Microsoft, it seems that any old canard will do; facts are strictly optional."

RE: DRM to the max in Windows7... no thanks!
By GoodBytes on 2/20/2009 1:04:25 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting... Thanks for the info. I shall avoid Slashdot.

By psypher on 2/20/2009 1:07:49 PM , Rating: 2
Glad to be of service :)

By stubeck on 2/20/2009 4:49:28 PM , Rating: 5
Slashdot is also so biased in almost everything they write. Its difficult to read their "news" posts sometimes because if its not Linux its automatically labeled as crap.

RE: DRM to the max in Windows7... no thanks!
By mindless1 on 2/20/2009 4:50:50 PM , Rating: 2
Excuse me? Throwing the word anti-MS out there excuses what even the article you linked mentioned?

All these Vista DRM features are found in Windows 7. But just as with Vista before it, the vast majority of users will never see the DRM in any practical sense; the features are there just in case Hollywood decides to make use of them.

Surely you don't feel this is acceptable? It's ok if they were already doing it??? If you let your rights slip away one by one, eventually you'll be effected too.

RE: DRM to the max in Windows7... no thanks!
By psypher on 2/20/2009 6:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
Talk about selective quoting...

Even if you look just at your quote, it says that you will likely never be effected by the DRM in Vista or Windows 7. As a Vista user, I totally agree. I have never encountered a single problem caused by the DRM in Vista. I have no problem with activating my copy (because mine is legal) and I have no problem with the occasional verification (again because mine is legal) when I try to install an update or feature.

We are not losing rights. They are exercising theirs. DRM is not inherently bad. It is only bad when people implement it in a way that restricts legal users of the software/music/movie/book/etc... (I am looking at EA here)

By the way, if you bothered to read the whole article, he is saying that the DRM in Vista and 7 is so minimal and non-intrusive that it barely matters to the legal user.

RE: DRM to the max in Windows7... no thanks!
By SiliconAddict on 2/20/09, Rating: -1
By dark matter on 2/22/2009 3:53:57 AM , Rating: 1
I have lots of DVD's ripped to my HTPC.

Guess what OS I ripped them on? Vista.
Guess what OS I play them back on? Vista.

A simple registry change allows you to have a DVD library on Media Centre. In fact, MS now allows you to download a file that enables it for you without you even having to type regedit.

In fact, I have never come accross any MS DRM other than activation. Slysoft AnyDVD works, Windows doesn't phone the police on me and handcuff me to the keyboard until they arrive.

All this Vista/7 is loaded with DRM is a load of old bollocks. Anyone who thinks it isn't please show me some good old fashioned hard evidence that I can replicate at home, then I may believe the bullshit.

RE: DRM to the max in Windows7... no thanks!
By omnicronx on 2/20/2009 2:10:09 PM , Rating: 1
Meaning that sound recorded from your system is deteriorated
Just as in XP sound in shared mode will be deteriorated slightly. But any application that makes use of Exlusive mode in Vista or 7 results in bit perfect sound reproduction, something only the hardcore know how to do in XP via kernel streaming or ANSIO. In XP everything must pass through the windows kmixer unless you use one of these techniques and is limited to 16bit sound reproduction, Vista even in shared mode has no such limitation. In other words Vista sound is far superior to XP.

RE: DRM to the max in Windows7... no thanks!
By mindless1 on 2/20/2009 4:55:20 PM , Rating: 2
Or to put it another way, those who know enough to care can get the job done in XP without any of the other new DRM measures in Vista.

RE: DRM to the max in Windows7... no thanks!
By omnicronx on 2/21/2009 1:54:40 PM , Rating: 2
The polling of output devices or 'DRM' as you call it is only activated if the owner of the protected material decides to turn a certain flag on. So far nobody ever has, yet people like yourself still complain, 2 years after Vistas release. (in other words, Vista DRM claims are pretty much unfounded as they were never implemented)

Furthermore not all sound cards support Kernel streaming, in fact most don't. And don't get me started on the hassles of ANSIO input/output. It can be very unstable, I still use KS with an old soundblaster live, but my computer will become unstable because of it every now and then. Furthermore it is usually dependent on program in use. In fact I only use Kernel streaming with foobar2000, normal windows audio still passes through XP's kmixer, and almost all games will also fall under this category too.

Vista is miles ahead of XP in terms of audio, as pretty much any device can make use of exclusive mode. You shouldn't have to be a rocket scientist in order to get good sound quality out of an OS, and XP definitely seems to be pushing that boundary.

By Hawkido on 2/23/2009 2:58:26 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, well, remember that the census in Germany was updated BEFORE they rounded up the Jews into internmet camps by using the newly updated census information.

Gun owners are now forced to register their firearms now, unless they trade guns illegally. So when they want to abolish the Second Ammendment they know where to find you, and anyone with a gun after that is a criminal, regardless.

Right now with DRM everyone is innocent, until they come after you. DRM = Innocent until accused, then guilty till proven innocent again.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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