Microsoft has announced that it is opening its Windows Vista Service Pack 2 beta to the public this week.

Previously, the beta had only been available to a select few, but now anyone using the Vista OS can download it from the company's TechNet website.

While Microsoft is making the beta available to all, Mike Nash, Corporate Vice President of Windows product management, on the site's blog is encouraging only tech enthusiasts to take the plunge.

Everyday users should apparently wait until the final release, which should be available in June 2009.

Not only will SP2 fix a few of glitches in Vista, it will offer up some new features.

These are as follows:

Emerging hardware support

  • Bluetooth 2.1 feature pack
  • Ability to record data on Blu-ray media
  • exFAT file system now supports UTC timestamps, which enables correct file synchronization across time zones
  • Support for the new VIA 64-bit CPU
  • Support for ICCD/CCID smart cards

Hyper-V

  • Windows Vista SP2 includes Hyper-V technology, enabling full virtualisation of server workloads

Security

  • Windows Vista SP2 incorporates previously released reliability updates, as well as addressing crashes discovered since the launch of Windows Vista SP1

Performance

  • Inclusion of Windows Search 4 for improved indexing performance, improved relevancy in search, broader indexing scenario inclusion, as well as new Group Policy integration for Windows Search
  • Reduction of resources required for sidebar gadgets

Wireless

  • Windows Vista Feature Pack for wireless
  • Fixed issue where Wi-Fi connection was no longer available after resume from sleep

Administration and support improvements

  • Service pack clean-up tool: restores hard disk space by permanently deleting the previous versions of the files (Windows Vista RTM and Windows Vista SP1) that are being serviced by Windows Vista SP2

To download Windows Vista SP2 beta, point your browser to http://technet.microsoft.com.