Near-final Vista SP2 reaches testers, set for mid-May debut

Microsoft confirms new Windows build to select group, more info coming 'soon'

Microsoft has wrapped up work on a release candidate for Windows Vista Service Pack 2, according to reports on the Web, corroborating a schedule disclosed last month that slated final delivery of SP2 by mid-May.

The company would only confirm that it recently notified some testers of a new build, but declined to say whether that was a release candidate, dubbed "RC" in software development parlance.

Vista SP2 RC's release was first reported Thursday by Ars Technica, which claimed that a group of invitation-only testers had been told of its availability via Windows Update, Microsoft's update service.

Late last month, the Malaysian Web site TechARP.com said that Vista SP2, the next major update to the problem-plagued operating system, was ready as a release candidate "escrow" build, and would make it to RC no later than Friday.

The final version of Vista SP2, said TechARP, will be a release-to-manufacturing (RTM) build that should be ready sometime in the first half of the second calendar quarter -- in other words, before mid-May.

Microsoft, meanwhile, stuck to a broader second-quarter target for Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2. "Microsoft distributed notification of an update to Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2 testers in an effort to gain additional feedback," a spokeswoman said in response to questions. "We will have more to share on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2 soon."

The one public version of Vista SP2 issued so far was the beta posted in early December 2008.

Elsewhere, TechARP also recently reported that Microsoft has told its hardware partners that it will not provide them with an OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) containing Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2 until 60 days after the general availability of Windows 7, Vista's successor. Previously, TechARP had said that computer makers would not be required to use Vista SP2 on new hardware, as is usually the case when the Microsoft finishes an update of that size.

"Don't expect to see any products with Windows Vista SP2 or Windows Server 2008 SP2 until at least two-to-three months have passed after Windows 7 is launched," the site said earlier this month. "End-users, though, can receive Service Pack 2 via Windows Update."

Microsoft released a public beta of Windows 7 on January 10, but as of yet, it has not set a timetable for the new operating system's release.

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Gregg Keizer

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