Should IT Trust SP1? Microsoft’s QA Process on the W2K Patch
- By Scott Bekker
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 (www.microsoft.com)
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.
Given Microsoft’s recent track record with quality control,
it’s hard to fault IT professionals for skittishness.
The last Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack (SP6) was hastily
re-released as SP6a last fall when it turned out the patch broke the popular
enterprise application, Lotus Notes from Lotus Development Corp. (www.lotus.com). Microsoft also ran into
difficulties with quality control on the recent Service Release for Office
Windows 2000 SP1, released Monday, apparently breaks the
personal firewall applications BlackICE Defender from Network ICE (www.netice.com) and ZoneAlarm from Zone Labs
“We did get a report over the weekend regarding the two
personal firewalls,” said Mark Perry, Microsoft’s director of Windows 2000
Server marketing. “We are talking with [the vendors] to go through the analysis
of what the specific issues are, and working with them.”
Perry’s take is that while Microsoft is treating the
firewall issue as serious, it is not indicative of quality control problems
with SP1, especially among enterprise accounts. “One thing we do not feel at
this particular moment is that it is very severe. We don’t see the products in
enterprise accounts much,” Perry said. “We feel confident that we’ve taken the
steps to ensure that SP1 is high quality.”
The Windows 2000 SP1 quality assurance program consisted of
deployment of the service pack in 200 internal servers at Microsoft and on
Microsoft.com. Microsoft distributed the service pack to more than 2,200
premier customers in 20 countries.
The main difference in quality assurance was requiring
customers to sign off on the service pack, something Microsoft also did with
the Windows 2000 OS.
“It’s subtle,” Perry said. “That is the one thing that was
new in Service Pack 1. One of the things that we’ve done in the past was pretty
much left it up to the customer to send us their go/no go feedback. What we did
specifically with Service Pack 1, we called down to really reiterate, ‘Is this
Five of Microsoft’s top OEM customers and a “very
significant portion” of beta customers signed off on SP1, Perry said.
The personal firewall issue is the only known application
that SP1 breaks, Perry said.
Users brought the problem to light in the days before the
announcement Monday. While the quality assurance program reached out to 2,200
organizations, some 60,000 users downloaded Windows 2000 SP1 between Friday and
its official release on Monday. – Scott
More Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 news:
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)
Fixes vs. Features:
Microsoft Still Determining How to Handle OS Updates in
Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 follows in the fixes-only
tradition started with Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 5. Microsoft officials are
still wrestling with the issue of how to wedge new features into the operating
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.