This afternoon Microsoft’s Mike Nash announced that the company is opening up the Windows Vista SP2 beta to a broader audience.
According to Nash’s blog, MSDN and TechNet subscribers will have access to the Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 Beta starting today. However, the beta service pack will also become available for a larger audience on Wednesday, December 4 through a Customer Preview Program (CPP) hosted on TechNet. The beta actually kicked off in late October, commencing with a small group of Technology Adoption Program customers.
Windows Vista SP2 contains all the previous updates contained in Service Pack 1, but adds support for new types of hardware as well as adding support for "several emerging standards." This includes the ability to record on Blu-ray media natively, the Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack that supports the most recent specifications for Bluetooth Technology, and the new Windows Connect Now that supposedly simplifies Wi-Fi configuration.
Nash also mentions in his blog that the beta will be available to those interested in trying out the upcoming service pack, but the CPP is actually intended for technology enthusiasts, developers, and IT Pros who want to see how their applications and environments react to the service pack before it officially goes live.
"For most customers, our best advice would be to wait until the final release prior to installing this service pack," he said. "For those of you who choose to test this service pack, we encourage you to install the beta as soon as you can; your feedback will help us to ship a solid and stable service pack for Windows Vista."
Nash emphasizes Microsoft’s commitment in supporting Windows Vista despite all the hoopla surrounding the upcoming Windows 7 operating system; Service Pack 2 is supposed to be "the proof that’s in the pudding" so to speak. For a more detailed list on what Service Pack 2 will bring to Server 2008 and Vista, check out Microsoft’s official update here.
The final version of Service Pack 2 is expected to officially go live in the first half of 2009, Nash said.