Get Ready for Windows Server 2008/Vista Service Pack 2

MSDN and TechNet subscribers now have access to Service Pack 2 (SP2) beta for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. The beta version of SP2 is also supposed to be available to the general public. Prior to that, Microsoft began testing SP2  with just a small group of testers first before making it more broadly available to the public. Microsoft currently estimates that Service Pack 2 will ship in the first half of 2009.
Microsoft says Windows Server 2008 SP2 addresses feedback from their customers. It contains all previously released hot fixes that have been released since SP1, integrated into a single service pack covering both server (Windows Server 2008) and client (Windows Vista) versions. See links section below for a link to the full list of all the hot fixes and security updates in Windows Server 2008 SP2 Beta.
To download Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2 beta please see:
Windows Server 2008 SP2 and Windows Vista SP2 Beta
SP2 also adds some new features for corporate users including full integration of Hyper-V into Windows Server 2008. The Hyper-V integration includes one free guest license for users of Windows Server 2008 Standard, four free licenses for users of the Enterprise version and an unlimited number of licenses for the DataCenter version.
Additional features found in SP2 include:

  • The ability to configure power management policies via Group Policy.
  • Additional changes to the power profile that claim to have yielded a 10% improvement over the power profile of Windows Server 2008 RTM.
  • Improved backward compatibility for older Terminal Server license keys.
  • The addition of Windows Search 4.0.
  • The Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack that supports the most recent specification for Bluetooth technology.
  • Adds new capabilities to Direct X Graphic display reliability.
  • The ability to record data on to Blu-Ray media natively in Windows Vista.
  • The inclusion of Windows Connect Now (WCN) to simplify Wi-Fi configuration.
  • The enablement of the exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps, which allows correct file synchronization across time zones.
  • Improves audio and video performance for streaming high definition content.

Installation Notes

Users must have SP1 installed before installing SP2 and need to have loaded the update to the Windows servicing stack. However, if you choose to install SP2 over Windows Update there will be one pre-required package to install, Servicing Stack Update (KB955430), before Windows Update offers you SP2.
Also note that you need at least 10Gb of free disk space on your system partition in order to install this SP.
Note: Service Pack 2 Beta is a time-limited software which will no longer operate after May 1, 2010. Also worth remembering is that you must uninstall this service pack beta software before you install the final version of the service pack, as the pre-RTM version of SP2 is NOT upgradable.
SP2 also includes a Service Pack Clean-up tool (Compcln.exe) which helps restore the hard disk space by permanently deleting the previous versions of the files (RTM and SP1) that are being serviced by SP2. The Pack Clean up tool can also be run offline while creating slipstream images to reduce the size of the image.
Issue with Hyper-V management tools for Vista: If you install SP2 beta and then attempt to install the Windows Vista SP1 Management Tools update for Hyper-V, installation of the update will fail. To avoid this, install the Management Tools update before you install this service pack.

Before you start Setup

Before you install Windows Server 2008, make sure you follow the steps in this section to prepare for the installation:

  • Check for application compatibility.
  • Disconnect UPS devices.
  • Back up your servers. The backup should include all data and configuration information that is necessary for the computer to function.
  • Disable anti-virus protection software.
  • Provide mass storage drivers. If your manufacturer has supplied a separate driver file, save the file to a floppy disk, CD, DVD, or universal serial bus (USB) flash drive in either the root directory of the installation media.
  • Be aware that Windows Firewall is on by default.
  • Prepare your Active Directory environment with Windows Server 2008 updates. Read my “Windows Server 2008 ADPREP” article for more information.