Installing Vista SP2 Beta

Update: For more on Vista SP2 Beta, see Vista SP2 Beta: More Efficient, But Not By Much.

This morning I installed Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Beta onto an HP notebook I am using for my testing. On Monday we'll post some more hands-on coverage of SP2, but for now here are some of my first impressions while installing Service Pack 2 Beta.

Before you install

If you are not already running Vista Service Pack 1, you cannot install SP2 Beta. If you're running Vista and haven't yet installed SP1, you will need to do so before installing SP2 Beta. It would be nice if Microsoft provided a "combo" update so that any Vista user can install SP2 Beta regardless of whether they use SP1, but I imagine that would be a ridiculously huge download.

Installation options

Microsoft actually gives you the choice to install Vista Service Pack 2 Beta from a standalone installer, an ISO disk image, or from Windows Update. To install from Windows Update, you will need to first download and install a script so Windows Update can "see" SP2 Beta, so to speak. For my testing, I went ahead and used the standalone 32-bit installer, a 388 MB file.

Doing the deed

Installing Service Pack 2 Beta is relatively painless. The installer states that the installation can take over an hour with multiple restarts, but SP2 Beta installed in about a half an hour on my test PC with only one restart.

Granted, it took me two tries to get it to install. The first time I attempted to install, I got an error two minutes in, right after the installer attempted to create a restore point, informing me that "a system reboot is required is required to roll back changed made."

I'm not entirely sure what changes I made that needed rolling back, but I went ahead and restarted anyway (so I guess you can technically say that I restarted twice while installing SP2 Beta). While rebooting, Vista went ahead and installed a couple earlier system updates, so I wonder if the updates that were ready to install had something to do with it. Second time was the charm, though.

Coming Monday

On Monday I expect to have more to say about Vista Service Pack 2 Beta. SP2 is mostly an under-the-hood update, so changes are largely subtle. A couple I plan to look at, though, are the included Service Pack Clean-up tool and the more resource-efficient sidebar gadgets. Is there anything you would like us to look at? Let us know and leave a comment.

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