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Windows Server 2003 SP1 Coming in Early 2004

Microsoft plans to release Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003 in the first quarter of 2004.

The company posted its plans for the first bundle of security fixes and bug patches for Windows Server 2003 on a new Web page in the last week. The page, which Microsoft promises to update periodically, is part of the support lifecycle section of Microsoft's Web site.

Although a Microsoft spokeswoman said that the new Web page posting is the first time Microsoft has publicly committed to a timeframe for SP1, the 2004 delivery represents a slight slip from some of Microsoft's public statements about when it would probably be available. At the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in New Orleans in May, Microsoft corporate vice president for Windows servers Dave Thompson said SP1 would be delivered near the end of this year.

Typically, first service packs for Windows operating systems are a significant milestone for many users who like to let others be on the bleeding edge of Microsoft deployments. Conventional wisdom holds that, by the first service pack, many of the most painful flaws have been discovered and corrected.

Regardless of what month of Q1 2004 Microsoft delivers Windows Server 2003 SP1 in, users are sure to have to wait longer than Microsoft made them wait for the Windows 2000 SP1. In that case, Microsoft had a service pack out in a little more than five months. Even an early January 2004 availability date would put the Windows Server 2003 service pack out in eight months.

Microsoft needed a little more than 10 months to get the first service pack out for Windows XP, but that effort was complicated by the Trustworthy Computing initiative and feature changes required under the antitrust settlement.

Microsoft is vague about what kinds of changes to expect in SP1 for Windows Server 2003. The company Web page says only that the service pack will include security hotfixes, design change requests and bug fixes, which is how the company also describes service packs coming for Windows XP and Windows 2000.

No mention is made of some of the features that Microsoft officials have hinted would be coming in the SP1 timeframe, such as support for 64-bit computing on the AMD Opteron processors. It is not yet clear whether the service pack would play some role as a delivery vehicle for such updates.

Meanwhile, the same new Web site puts delivery of Service Pack 2 for Windows XP in "mid-2004." As for Windows 2000, which just got its SP4 on June 26, Microsoft says the status of the next update is "TBD."

About the Author

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

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