Microsoft offers service pack beta for Vista, Win Server '08

Microsoft this week is proceeding with an update to Windows Vista and Windows Server, making available a beta-level service pack featuring capabilities for virtualisation and power savings.

The company on Tuesday began offering the Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2 (Service Pack 2) Beta release to MSDN and TechNet subscribers and will extend it to the public via TechNet on Thursday. Offering a single service pack minimizes deployment and testing complexity, Microsoft said.

Included in the service pack, according to the Windows Server Division blog, are Hyper-V bits in the release-to-manufacturing stage, meaning the bits are completed. Hyper-V is Microsoft's hypervisor-based server virtualisation technology enabling multiple operating systems to run on a single physical machine. This enables workload consolidation across multiple underutilized servers onto a smaller number of machines.

Also highlighted in the service pack are changes to the power profile to yield more power savings. The service pack also addresses reliability and performance issues and supports new types of hardware. The 64-bit CPU from Via Technologies is supported and performance is improved for Wi-Fi connections after resuming from sleep mode.

"We are tracking to ship SP2 in the first half of 2009," said Justin Graham, senior product manager for Windows Server, in the blog.

With the release, Microsoft is looking for developers and IT professionals to have an early look at the technology and offer feedback. The beta is being offered via a Microsoft Customer Preview Program (CPP)

"The CPP is intended for technology enthusiasts, developers, and IT pros who would like to test Service Pack 2 in their environments and with their applications prior to final release. For most customers, our best advice would be to wait until the final release prior to installing this service pack," said Mike Nash, corporate vice president for Windows Product Management at Microsoft, in The Windows Blog on Tuesday.

"Windows Vista SP2 builds on the solid foundation of Windows Vista SP1, and represents our ongoing commitment to Windows Vista today," Nash said.

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