As expected, Microsoft announced Windows Vista and Server 2008 Service Pack 2 (SP2) today. Fear not, it’s just a traditional service pack with no major new features, but here’s the news from Mike Nash:

This week we're opening up the beta to a broader audience. Starting today, MSDN and TechNet subscribers will have access to the Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 Beta to begin testing.  

Beginning Thursday Dec. 4th, we will be making the Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 Beta available to everyone through a Customer Preview Program (CPP). The CPP will launch on TechNet and be available to anyone interested in trying out this service pack. The CPP is intended for technology enthusiasts, developers, and IT Pros who would like to test Service Pack 2 in their environments and with their applications prior to final release. For most customers, our best advice would be to wait until the final release prior to installing this service pack.

For those of you who choose to test this service pack, we encourage you to install the beta as soon as you can; your feedback will help us to ship a solid and stable service pack for Windows Vista.

Windows Vista SP2 builds on the solid foundation of Windows Vista SP1, and represents our ongoing commitment to Windows Vista today. Windows Vista SP2 includes all of the updates that have been delivered since the release of Windows Vista SP1, and incorporates improvements discovered through automated feedback from the Customer Experience Improvement Program (where users voluntarily opt-in to sending Microsoft error reports from their systems).  In addition to these updates, SP2 also includes support for new types of hardware and emerging standards that will grow in importance in the coming months. For specific changes in Windows Vista SP2 - see my previous post on Windows Vista SP2 or check out the notable changes document.

Your feedback from testing will help us deliver the highest quality release possible. As of today, we are tracking to ship Windows Vista SP2 in the first half of 2009.