The latest service packs (SP2) for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 have been released to manufacturing and are now publically available as standalone installers.
Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are downloadable from the Microsoft download site.
SP2 is actually “a collection of updates to the Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 operating systems delivered in a single installation package that addresses feedback from our customers,” according to an FAQ accompanying the release.
Organizations using SP2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 can "benefit in security and manageability, overall system performance, and streamlined planning and deployment," according to Microsoft. SP2 supports new types of hardware and emerging hardware standards and includes updates delivered since SP1.
Microsoft said that SP2 will not be a mandatory update through Windows Update, but after it has been on the Windows Update site for some time it will be offered via “Automatic Updates” (AU), if users select that option.
“Even on AU, SP2 will not install automatically until the End User License Agreement has been accepted,” the company said in the FAQ.
Before downloading and installing Vista SP2, users must have SP1 installed. There were a number of reasons given, primarily size.
“Having a cumulative SP2 that includes the updates from SP1 would have made the size too large,” according to Microsoft. “In the consumer space, the majority of customers have already installed SP1 over Windows Update or will be doing so before SP2, so incorporating SP1 into a cumulative SP2 would take unnecessary time and bandwidth.”
Windows Vista SP2 does not include Internet Explorer 8, but SP2 Windows Server 2008 natively includes Hyper-V, Microsoft's virtualization technology. That is, if Server 2008 users install SP2, they do not need to download Hyper-V separately.