Windows Vista SP2 RC live now

Redmond (WA) – One more opportunity to patch Vista: Microsoft released a near-final version of the second service pack for Windows Vista. If you don’t want to wait until the final version will be available sometime next month, you can download the software, which comes either as a standalone version for Vista or in combination with a service pack for Windows Server 2008.

Microsoft is completing the second major update for Windows Vista in record time. Announced in October of last year, SP2 is basically finalized and ready for public rollout. Users can download the Release Candidate from Microsoft’s servers, despite the fact that the fine print warns that this release is still intended “for testing only” and that it is not recommended “installing this software on primary or mission-critical systems.”

Microsoft said that Vista SP2 includes all of the updates that have been delivered since the release of Windows Vista SP1, and incorporates improvements discovered through automated feedback from the Customer Experience Improvement Program. There are several “changes focused on addressing reliability and performance issues, supporting new kinds of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards.” Specifically, SP2 supports Via’s Nano CPU, include support for Bluetooth v2.1 and Windows Connect Now (WCN) Wi-Fi, as well as support for exFAT, or FAT64, a proprietary file system that is often used in Flash memory and consumer devices. The exFAT file size limit is 16 Exabyte (EB), up from 4 GB in the current FAT32.  

Vista SP2 is offered as a complete ISO package with Windows Server 2008 SP2, weighing in at a hefty 1.35 GB, but can also downloaded as a standalone 460 MB update. (721 MB for x64) Vista SP2 can only be installed on PCs that already run Vista SP1.