Reports: Microsoft preps Vista SP2 beta

Invites go out, say bloggers; beta to hit select testers within weeks

Microsoft will begin beta testing the next service pack update for Windows Vista within weeks, according to a Windows enthusiast Web site.

Testers have received invitations to beta test Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2), reported Neowin.net on Friday. Betas are expected to be released to invited testers, but not to the general public, in approximately four weeks, Neowin.net said, citing multiple tipsters.

Service packs typically consist of collections of the patches, hotfixes and reliability updates released since the original edition of the OS, or its last service pack, whichever came last. At times, however, the company introduces new features to its software via such packs.

Among those features, reported Neowin.net, Vista SP2 will include Windows Search 4, Bluetooth 2.1 wireless support, and support for Via Technologies 64-bit processor. Currently, Via is best known for its C7 chip, which powers some ultra-light "netbook" laptops, including Hewlett-Packard's Mini-Note.

Windows Search 4.0 is the newest version of Microsoft's desktop search engine, and was issued to current Vista users via Windows Update last July.

Vista SP1, the single service pack released thus far, went final in February 2008, just over a year after the operating system debuted in retail and was made available to consumers. The highly-anticipated SP1, however, suffered a bumpy launch, as users complained that they weren't able to upgrade and others reported that their PCs were crippled by endless reboots .

Earlier this month, speculation that Microsoft would soon seed select testers with a beta of Vista SP2 began after users noticed that the company had added a placeholder to its support database for the service packs for both Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Others, including blogger Mary-Jo Foley, have confirmed the Neowin.net reports; in a post last week , Foley said that a few testers had already received Vista SP2 betas, and that Microsoft wanted to issue the service pack before it released Windows 7, Vista's successor.

Microsoft announced just last week that it would use the "Windows 7" code name as the product's official name. Also last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called Windows 7 "Windows Vista, a lot better."

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