Windows Server 2008’s Service Pack 2 (SP2) Beta program allows administrators to check out the forthcoming service pack in test installations before the live deployment. This service pack brings a few important changes to a server installation — some of which most administrators may not prefer initially.

Here are some of the notable changes and information related to the update:

  • SP2 includes Windows Search 4.0 for server installations; this may irritate many administrators because we usually bypass this functionality on Windows Update or other server update tools. Fortunately, Microsoft provides a Windows Search 4.0 Troubleshooting Guide, which includes steps about high-resource utilization.
  • In SP2, the Power Management Policy can be as much as 10% more efficient with managed power options in Group Policy.
  • SP2 is available for x86 editions. (This is not to be confused with the Windows Server 2008 R2 release, which is only available in x64 editions.)
  • For SP2 standalone installations, the service pack file size is 388 MB for x86 versions and 614 MB for x64 editions.
  • SP2 for Windows Server 2008 is, rather awkwardly, the same installation binaries for Windows Vista SP2. The files are the same by processor support, so x86 editions of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista use the same service pack file. Likewise, x64 editions of the products would use the same service pack installation.
  • SP2 introduces a new feature that may detect driver incompatibilities and prohibit the installation if a loss of functionality will occur.
  • Full installation (ISO) versions of Windows Server 2008 with SP2 are available as part of the Beta program.
  • The SP2 Beta is time limited and will expire on May 1, 2010.

Note: The SP2 Beta is a good idea for test and development systems but not for a live workload.

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