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Fixes vs. Features:Microsoft Still Determining How to Handle OS Updates in Short Run

Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 follows in the fixes-only tradition started with Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 5. Microsoft Corp. officials are still wrestling with the issue of how to wedge new features into the operating system.

“We haven’t locked down our plans yet,” says Mark Perry, director of marketing for Windows 2000 Server.

Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) officials say they are responding to several requests from end users. First, is that service packs arrive at predictable intervals.

“Roughly every six months is what they’re asking for,” Perry says. SP1 follows the Feb. 17 Windows 2000 launch by 5 ½ months, although it comes more than a month after it was first supposed to be available. “Our goal is to be more predictable on releasing service packs,” he said.

“The other thing is no new features in service packs,” Perry said of customer feedback. The last feature update, aside from Windows 2000 itself, was Option Pack 4, which came out with Service Pack 4 for Windows NT.

No new features is a complicated customer requirement, though. Some customers would like to see an annual release of the operating system, taking care of new features in new releases.

Microsoft needed four years to turn Windows NT 4.0 into Windows 2000. Whistler, the follow-on release to Windows 2000, is slated for mid-2001 at the earliest.

“Some customers tell us if we are on an annual release of the operating system, then there’s not really a need for a feature pack. Beyond [annual releases], maybe once a year on a feature pack,” Perry says.

For now, Microsoft walks a fine line between fixes and new features. The Windows 2000 SP1 CD will include the Terminal Services Advanced Client, but won’t install the component by default. SP1 does update several device drivers by default, adding functionality, although it doesn’t add new drivers. Feature or fix?Scott Bekker

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More Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 news:

Should IT Trust SP1? Microsoft’s QA Process on the W2K Patch

Even before Microsoft Corp. announced Service Pack 1 for Windows 2000, pre-launch users discovered two broken personal firewall applications that slipped through the quality assurance process. A Microsoft official says the quality assurance program for this service pack on Windows 2000 exceeded the programs on Windows NT and other Microsoft application service releases and service packs. (More)

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W2K SP1 is Here

Windows 2000’s unofficial underwriter arrived today in the form of Service Pack 1, a key component that many IT professionals have been awaiting before committing to upgrade to the new operating system. (More)

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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