Win2K SP3, XP SP1 Share Settlement Changes
Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 and Windows XP SP 1 share a key element—changes to comply with Microsoft’s antitrust settlement with the Department of Justice.
- By Scott Bekker
Microsoft released Win2K SP3 in early August. The oft-delayed bundle
of regression-tested bug fixes is the first Win2K SP so far that Microsoft
recommendeds users install.
SPs generally become more valuable with age because each includes previous
fixes, plus fixes based on the feedback of an increasing volume of users.
While the number of Win2K deployments was limited when SP1 was released
in August 2000 and Win2K-uptake remained somewhat slow at the SP2 release
in May 2001, a much larger base of users has gotten a chance to rattle
the OS and report back to Redmond.
As of press time, XP SP1 was slated for release sometime between Aug.
28 and the end of September, according to Microsoft General Counsel Brad
Like SP3 for Win2K, SP1 for XP is strategically important. While most
potential XP Home Edition customers don’t know what “SP” means, many potential
XP Professional corporate customers view SP1 availability as the real
release date for a Microsoft operating system.
Both SPs include the usual laundry list of bug fixes, including significant
security problems uncovered through the Trustworthy Computing security
review earlier this year.
But the most interesting changes involve a clause in the settlement agreement
with the Department of Justice and the nine settling states requiring
Microsoft to give OEMs and users a way to remove five pieces of Microsoft
“middleware”—Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Windows Messenger,
Microsoft Java Virtual Machine and Outlook Express. The clause applies
to Win2K Professional and XP. The settlement was still pending when Win2K
SP3 shipped, but the agreement requires the changes even prior to a court
stamp of approval.
In the SPs, Microsoft interpreted the clause to mean it must hide icons
and program menu references to middleware rather than yanking the code.
Microsoft’s controversial argument holds that removing the middleware
would break third-party software.
The implementation comes in two forms, one for end users and one for
computer manufacturers. On the user side, Microsoft created a new tool
called “Set Program Access and Defaults” that allows users to hide the
middleware. The other tool allows OEMs, such as Dell, HP and IBM, to pick
and choose among such middleware options when packaging Windows on computers.
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.