Brandon LeBlanc, a Windows Communications manager, announced the release in a blog post, and highlighted a list of notable changes and technical information.
"Last week we announced the RC for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2, " he wrote. "We initially made it available for TechNet and MSDN subscribers. Today, we're making it available to anyone interested in testing SP2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 prior to final release."
Microsoft posted the release notes on Tuesday at an unflagged download site, and then followed this with an official blog announcement on Wednesday.
"By providing these fixes integrated into a single service pack, Microsoft provides a single high-quality update that minimises deployment and testing complexity for customers," the company said.
"In addition to all previously released updates, SP2 will contain changes focused on addressing reliability and performance issues, supporting new kinds of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards. SP2 will also continue to make it easier for IT administrators to deploy and manage large installations of Windows Server 2008."
There was also an interesting development around Microsoft's next operating system release this week.
Two observant bloggers have pointed out that a new build of Windows 7 promises to let users remove Internet Explorer if they wish. If this is true, it will be the first time that the option has been offered, and closely follows an announcement by the European Commission (EC) that it is to relax its monitoring of Microsoft's competition practices.
The two bloggers, Chris Holmes and Bryant Zadegan, posted images from the operating system that show a dialogue box with an Internet Explorer removal prompt. Both bloggers claim that the feature was not present in earlier versions.
However, Zadegan discovered that it only removes the executable associated with the browser, and not the program itself.
"There is a catch," he wrote. "For now, this only seems to wipe the actual executable running Internet Explorer 8 (iexplore.exe) but, given that many of the most vocal proponents of choice were just looking for an option to functionally remove IE8, this might've been the only way to do it without killing the rest of Windows."
The EC announced yesterday that it would no longer actively monitor Microsoft for anti-competitive activity associated with the way it bundles its own software and applications. The removal option, if proved to be correct, should further appease regulators.
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