Microsoft is close to releasing a significant upgrade for its Windows Vista operating system, according to a company official.
Vista Service Pack 2 has undergone "release to manufacturing," said Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft's in-house Windows blogger, in a post Wednesday. Release to manufacturing, or RTM, is software industry lingo that means work has been completed on the service pack and it's been sent off for duplication and distribution.
The upshot is that Windows Vista SP2 should soon be available for download.
Vista SP 2 includes security and performance updates issued since Microsoft released Vista SP1 in March 2008. It also includes "support for new types of hardware and emerging standards that will grow in importance in the coming months," said a company representative. Among other things, Vista SP2 adds support for the latest Bluetooth wireless specification and Blu-ray high-definition media encoding. It also adds Microsoft's Windows Connect Now Wi-Fi configuration tool.
Despite its unpopularity among enterprise users, Microsoft continues to push Vista as an upgrade path to the forthcoming Windows 7 operating system. The company has said that businesses that jump directly from Windows XP to Windows 7 could face application compatibility problems because of differences between the operating systems' code bases.
"Business customers with Windows Vista will find that the transition from Windows Vista to Windows 7 will be significantly more straightforward due to the high degree of compatibility between Windows Vista and Windows 7," LeBlanc said
"If your Windows Vista SP1 deployment is already under way, we recommend you continue with SP1 as planned," LeBlanc wrote. "Then you can deploy SP2 using your systems management infrastructure. If you are in the early stages of deployment or still planning Windows Vista deployment, our best advice is that you plan on testing and deploying Windows Vista SP2."
Microsoft is expected to release Windows 7 in late 2009, although the company has not officially confirmed a date.
InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).