Microsoft has announced it has wrapped up a near-final version of Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2), and has posted it to a pair of subscriber-only services for download.

Others won't get their hands on Vista SP2 Release Candidate (RC) until sometime next week, however.

The news comes hard on the heels of reports last week that Microsoft had finished release candidates for Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2, and had notified testers that the RC build was available.

Starting today, Vista SP2 and Windows Server SP2 will be available to subscribers of the TechNet and MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network), a pair of for-pay services that cater to IT professionals and developers.

The general public will have to wait a little longer. "Next week, Microsoft will make SP2 RC available to the public via TechNet ," a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail. She was not able to provide a day next week when the RC will be posted, however.

According to the Malaysian Web site TechARP.com, which has accurately pegged past Windows delivery dates, Vista SP2 is on track for a final release no later than mid-May. Late last month, the site said its sources had promised Microsoft would make Vista SP2 RC no later than last Friday, Feb. 20, and would reach release-to-manufacturing (RTM) sometime in the first half of the second quarter.

For its part, Microsoft again said that it plans to deliver final code for Vista SP2 in the second quarter.

Previously, Microsoft had issued just one public version of Vista SP2, a beta it posted in early December 2008 .