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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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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.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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