The tide of updates never stops. Today Microsoft released Windows Vista Service Pack 2, which Vista users will see delivered through the Automatic Update system in the next few weeks. When it arrives through Automatic Updates, it’s not a huge file but it will take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more to install. (It won’t install itself automatically without your okay, so be prepared to wait when you give it permission to go forward.)

You can download it manually if you choose from this page. I would just as soon have you wait a while before you get this one. It will probably be a straightforward, easy installation with no side effects, but unforeseen problems can arise with service packs that get sorted out in the first couple of weeks. Relax. There’s no rush. Check on your backups before you install Service Pack 2, right?

There will be no visible changes after you install Windows Vista Service Pack 2. Nothing will be moved, no new features are added. The service pack includes all the security updates and fixes released since Service Pack 1, plus a few more fixes that are included for the first time. All of it is good stuff, none of it is essential. You can get general information about the service pack from the links on this page, and specific information about changes and fixes on this page.

In looking over the list of changes, only two things jump out at me:

  • Windows Search 4.0 is finally included, a year after it was released as a standalone update. My clients have had Windows Search 4.0 for a long time; in my mind, it is an essential program for everyone using Windows XP, Vista, or Server 2008.
  • “SP2 improves performance for Wi-Fi connections after resuming from sleep mode.” That would be good. I’ve had trouble with that.

From a technical perspective, the interesting part is that Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 have so much code in common that the exact same downloaded file is also the installation file for Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2. That’s just remarkable when you think about it, since cosmetically Vista and Server 2008 don’t seem to have that much in common. Under the hood, they’re both built on the same sturdy and secure framework.

I’ll be installing Service Pack 2 on my clients’ SBS 2008 servers but not until there’s lots of feedback about what to expect.

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