It may have arrived a bit sooner than originally expected, but I doubt anyone is complaining. Service Pack 2 build v6002-16497 (compiled October 17) for both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 has been posted for testers on Microsoft Connect. The five languages currently supported are English, German, French, Spanish, and Japanese, in both 32- and 64-bit flavors. Early reports indicate that performance has been improved yet again with this service pack.
The various .iso images posted weigh in between 1GB and 4GB, but testers can also install the early build of SP2 over Windows Update (41MB for Vista 32bit, 47MB for Server 2008 32bit, 60MB for Vista 64bit, and 90MB for Server 2008 64bit). The final version of the standalone installer will weigh in at about 302MB for the 32-bit 5-language package, 390MB for the 32-bit 36-language package, 508MB for the 64-bit 5-language package, and 622MB for the 64-bit 36-language package. These are estimates but are unlikely to change significantly, unless testers force Microsoft to make major changes before release.
Microsoft warns testers that “Starting any Windows Server 2008 SP2 or Windows Vista SP2 installations will result in Microsoft collecting information about the installation process.” This is expected, given that testers are getting the chance to test early builds of the release in order to give Microsoft feedback on the installation process and overall experience after installation. Testers should also be reminded that installing a pre-RTM build means that they will have to uninstall it before installing SP2 RTM; pre-RTM builds are not upgradeable. The software giant is currently aiming to release the final version of the service pack in the first half of 2009 (a more specific date will be chosen based on the feedback received), long before Windows 7.
As with previous service packs, SP2 will include all previous updates and patches for the operating system (for example, SP2 marks the inclusion of Hyper-V into Windows Server 2008 natively). What’s different this time around though, is that this will be the first service pack Microsoft releases that will be simultaneously released for both the client and server versions of Windows 32-bit and 64-bit. Those confused should be reminded that Microsoft took steps to make this happen by releasing Windows Server 2008 with SP1 already installed. SP2’s only requirement (assuming no incompatible drivers detected) is that SP1 is already installed.